The tamarisk plant (saltcedar) is one of the greatest threats to riparian habitats and streams. Originally from Eurasia, it was introduced in the 1800’s to the southwestern area of our country. For years I’ve seen it along the western rivers. Now I see it in the metro area along roadside marshes, drainage ditches, foothills streams, and in my city parks!
In 2003 Governor Owens issued Executive Order D 002 03 to coordinate efforts to eradicate this plant on public land. In response to the Executive Order the Department of Natural Resources published a report, 10-Year Strategic Plan on the Comprehensive Removal of Tamarisk and the Coordinated Restoration of Colorado’s Native Riparian Ecosystems, in 2004.
You may wonder what this plant looks like. It isn’t just a little weed, easy to overlook. Thick stands, up to 15 feet high, obstruct views of lakes and rivers and make access to them difficult. It crowds out native shrubs and trees that wildlife depend on and is of no use to native species. Difficult to eradicate, the most critical problem is that it consumes enormous amounts of water. One acre of tamarisk uses 1.3 million gallons of water per year. For pictures and details, check out the above reports and the following state publications: