Tamarisk Coalition hosts float event in Grand Valley

June 26th, 2014 to June 29th, 2014
By Brittany Market at the Grand Junction Free Press
The Colorado River is lined with mint-green trees, often sporting pink flowers. Don’t let the beauty fool you however. Tamarisk may look innocent, but it’s a sun, water, and nutrient hog foreign to western Colorado’s natural landscape.
On Sunday, June 29, Grand Junction’s Tamarisk Coalition will host a Raft the River fundraiser and awareness session to educate locals about this invasive species found in southwestern states. At noon, participants should meet at Rimrock Adventures in Fruita for a shuttle to Blue Heron boat Ramp. The float officially begins at 1 p.m., with plans to return to Rimrock Adventures around 4 p.m. for dinner, drinks, prizes and live music.
The float costs $50. If only interested in dinner, it costs $25.
Live entertainment by Green Grass Project, a bluegrass band, is planned. All proceeds will benefit the restoration and improvement of local riverside areas.
The Tamarisk Coalition — originating as part of the Riverfront Commission, a group dedicated to cleaning up Watson Island — focuses on the management of tamarisk and other invasive plants like the Russian olive. It coordinates proper removal of the plants on private and public lands in Mesa County.
“We are providing an overall understanding of how to manage it instead of eliminating it completely,” Tamarisk Coalition outreach coordinator Cara Kukuraitis said.
In the 1800s, settlers planted tamarisk believing the plant would help with erosion control.
They quickly found it to be a pest plant, however, because it channels streams with its flexible root systems. Tamarisk also monopolizes water, nutrients, and sun, killing other plants. Plus, it burns at a higher heat, creating more fire risk among cottonwoods and other vegetation.
To manage tamarisk, a variety of groups based in Colorado use the tamarisk beetle to eliminate the plant. The Tamarisk Coalition monitors the beetles in Mesa County to ensure that other plants stay healthy.
For more information, visit www.tamariskcoalition.org.

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