Volunteers needed for Glenwood tamarisk removal work | AspenTimes.com

Volunteers needed for Glenwood tamarisk removal work

Hannah Goulding
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers is seeking volunteers for an all-day tamarisk removal project Saturday in Glenwood Springs. In addition to removing the trees, the nonprofit group will revegetate trees and shrubs indigenous to the banks of the Colorado River.

Volunteers will start at Two Rivers Park, focusing on both banks of the river between West Glenwood and the hot springs. The event is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Organizers said the process of removing tamarisks is ongoing.

“The city of Glenwood Springs and Roaring Fork Outdoor volunteers have coordinated tamarisk projects in the past, so we have made some progress and reduced its spread. It’s gotten better by virtue of hard labor and some herbicides. But it’s an ongoing effort,” said Andrew McGregor, the city’s director of Community Development, in a prepared statement.

“It’s pretty difficult to remove it because the root system is incredibly large – it’s at least as big as what you see above ground, so you can’t just pull it out or cut off the top,” said RFOV Executive Director David Hamilton. “It involves a lot of labor; there’s no quick, easy, mechanical way to do it”.

Tamarisk is an invasive, noxious plant that destroys native habitat in the riparian zone, which is critical to 80 percent of the area’s wildlife. The plant chokes out the banks’ native vegetation by dropping salts onto the ground; the salts benefit the tamarisk but are deadly for surrounding plants. Each tamarisk plant consumes an estimated 200 gallons of water per day in the growing season, making it harder for native plants to survive.

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The plant is indigenous to Asia and was introduced into the United States as erosion control along irrigation ditches in Southern California. Additionally, the plant poses a risk of wildfires to forests and the people living near the watersheds and contains no nutritional value for animals that consume it.

“With such strong support from so many partners, we definitely have a chance in Colorado to keep the tamarisk at bay,” Hamilton said. “This weekend will make a significant dent in the progress.”

Project partners include the city of Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, LoVa Trails, Ferdinand Hayden Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Tamarisk Coalition and the Colorado River District.

To volunteer, call RFOV at 927-8241, e-mail rfov@sopris.net, or sign up online at rfov.org.

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