City Works to Remove Invasive Species

November 4th, 2014
Posted: Friday, October 31, 2014 4:55 am | Updated: 7:50 am, Fri Oct 31, 2014.
By Rosanne Boyett | 0 comments
GRANTS – The City of Grants is partnering with the Greater Rio Grande Watershed Alliance to remove salt cedar trees. City officials are anxious to begin effort to prevent the proliferation of tamarisk (known as salt cedar).
“The Alliance is supplying the funding,” reported City Manager Laura Jaramillo. “Mayor Martin Hicks offered to provide the long-arm excavator and an employee to operate the equipment as part of the City’s contribution.”
Grants Public Works Director Paul Pena, and Larry Winn, who is the McKinley County representative for the Alliance, and Jaramillo met on Monday, Oct. 27. The City Manager explained that the project involves contacting private landowners for permission, obtaining the required U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits, and working with contractors who will cut the trees and treat the remaining stumps.
“We talked about some areas where the salt cedar is rampant,” said Jaramillo. “A lot of these trees are in open fields such as near Wal-Mart on the city’s east side. We also discussed the infestations near Mesa View Elementary School. It will probably require contractors to remove those because if we use the long-arm excavator, it will cause damage to the drainage area.”
The City, Lava Soil and Water District, and the Alliance are participating in an initiative to improve the riparian health of the Rio Grande watershed, which includes the Rio Puerco watershed.
“It looks like we will be able to start the removal project by December,” said Jaramillo yesterday. “Salt Cedar is a really fast growing plant that takes a lot of water from the ground. We need to use our water resources carefully.”

More about Salt Cedar

It is commonly believed that Tamarix (scientific name) disrupts the structure and stability of North American native plant communities and degrades native wildlife habitat, by outcompeting and replacing native plant species, increasing the saline content of soils, monopolizing limited sources of moisture, and increasing the frequency, intensity and effect of fires and floods. Individual plants may not consume larger quantities of water but large dense stands of tamarisk do consume more water than equivalent stands of native cottonwoods. Research on competition between tamarisk seedlings and co-occurring native trees has found that the seedlings are not competitive across a range of environments. Stands of mature trees effectively prevent native species from becoming established in the understory because reduced light, elevated salinity, and possibly changes to the soil biota.
Tamarix has taken over large sections of riparian ecosystems in the western United States that were once home to native cottonwoods and willows, and are projected by some to spread well beyond the current range.
Controlling Tamarix:
There are several ways to deal with pest populations of tamarisk. The National Park Service has used physically removing the plants, spraying them with herbicides, and introducing northern tamarisk beetles (Diorhabda carinulata) in the National Park System. This has been done in the Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and Colorado along the Green and Yampa Rivers. After years of study, the USDA Agricultural Research Service has found that the tamarisk beetles eat only the tamarisk, and starve when there is no more tamarisk available. No other native North American plants have been found to be eaten by the introduced tamarisk beetle. Progress is slow, but proves that containment of the tamarisk is possible in the long term, according to online sources.

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