Arkansas River Watershed Invasive Plants Partnership

The Arkansas River Watershed Invasive Plants Partnership (ARKWIPP) was formed in 2007 to develop a strategic plan for Colorado’s Arkansas Watershed riparian areas impacted by non-native woody invasives, principally tamarisk and Russian-olive.  ARKWIPP, which was initiated in Bent County through the leadership of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District (SECWCD), brought together a multitude of partnerships already working on woody invasive control within the Basin. While diverse, smaller partnerships continue to work independently, ARKWIPP serves as the larger overarching partnership to help strengthen and support all partnerships within the watershed.

Watershed Concerns

The Arkansas River Watershed in Colorado accounts for over 60% of the State’s tamarisk infestation based on an inventory conducted in 2007 by the Tamarisk Coalition.  The highest tamarisk density in the state occurs within the riparian areas surrounding John Martin Reservoir in Bent County.


The shared vision is an overall Arkansas River Watershed restored as a thriving and diverse riparian ecosystem containing minimal infestations of non-native woody invasive species in order to protect water resources, protect native riparian species and habitats, protect communities from wildfire and flooding, enhance agricultural productivity, and improve recreational opportunities.
To accomplish this vision ARKWIPP will:
  • Provide a mechanism for communication and coordination among diverse parties and land managers throughout the Arkansas River Watershed.
  • Provide timely and quality annual educational opportunities for land managers and land owners within the Arkansas River Watershed focused on management techniques for successful riparian restoration.

Active Participants

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service Pueblo County
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service Huerfano County
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service Custer County
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service Bent County 
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service NE Prowers County
  • Colorado State Forest Service
  • National Park Service Bent’s Old Fort
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Wildlife
  • Bent County
  • Otero County
  • Prowers County
  • Pueblo County
  • RiversEdge West (formerly Tamarisk Coalition)
  • Colorado Water Conservation Board
  • Upper Arkansas Cooperative Weed Management Area
  • Local Basin conservation districts
  • Local Basin water conservancy districts
  • Others

Watershed Plan

The ARKWIPP Strategic Plan was completed in 2008 with approval by the Colorado State Weed Coordinator.  Plan development was funded by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB).  Plan developmental guidance and editing was provided by RiversEdge West. The plan is based on a set of guiding principles that focus on ecological, social-cultural, economic, and research considerations.

Description of Work to Be Accomplished

Mapping of tamarisk and Russian-olive within the Arkansas Watershed was completed in 2007.  The mapping was funded by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and the Purgatoire River Water Conservancy District, and was conducted by the Tamarisk Coalition.  Mapping data provided ARKWIPP partners with the foundation for targeting control efforts and developing cost estimates for treatment.  
Project Implementation
ARKWIPP’s primary purpose has evolved since its inception.  ARKWIPP’s primary purpose now is to organize and implement annual education and outreach efforts to provide land managers with the latest riparian restoration research, techniques, and information.  Annual workshops have been held since 2009, with over 330 land managers and private landowners in attendance.
Project partners are also working with the CO Department of Agriculture’s Insectary to establish tamarisk leaf beetles within the Watershed as part of an integrated management approach.  Tamarisk leaf beetles have been released in the Watershed from 2009 through 2013.  In 2011 the leaf beetles showed good establishment in the Fountain Creek area between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, and have since spread throughout the lower watershed.  It is hoped that once populations are established and remain stable, the leaf beetles will serve as the primary control mechanism for tamarisk.  

Project Timeline

Work is ongoing.

Major Sources of Funding or Support Since 2007

  • Colorado Water Conservation Board, Tamarisk and Russian-olive grant program (TRO)
  • Colorado Water Conservation Board, grants for developing the strategic plan, and mapping and inventory
  • Purgatoire River Water Conservancy District, grant for mapping and inventory
  • DOLA grant for developing the strategic plan
  • RiversEdge West, substantial staff support for education and outreach efforts
  • Colorado Water Conservation Board, grants for education and outreach efforts

Notable Accomplishments

  • 2008 - Completion of watershed mapping of tamarisk and Russian olive 
  • 2008 - Completion of strategic plan
  • 2009-2011 – 3,643 acres of tamarisk treatment through the CWCB TRO grant program
    • Arkansas River north of the City of La Junta  - 278 acres
    • Arkansas River north of the Town of Las Animas - 194 acres
    • Arkansas River west of the Kansas border - 3,171 acres
  • Annual riparian restoration workshops conducted since 2009 with over 330 attendees


As with any watershed organization, sustainable funding is challenging.  However, since ARKWIPP has evolved into an education and outreach partnership, not focused on implementation, funding is not as challenging since large amounts of funding are not required on an annual basis.

Contact Information

For more information, please read this document, or contact Patty Knupp - Area 3 Biologist - Southeastern CO, USDA NRCS, 719-543-8386 x112,


RiversEdge West's

mission is to advance the restoration of riparian lands through collaboration, education, and technical assistance.