Taming the tamarisk terror | VailDaily.com

Taming the tamarisk terror

Nicole Frey
Preston Utley/Vail DailyWood debris flies as Steve Elzinga saws down tamarisk weed along the banks of the Gypsum Ponds on Monday. Photog's Caption: NWS Weed Man PU 8-9Preston Utley/putley@vaildaily.comWood debris flies as Steve Elzinga saws down a tamarisk weed along the banks of the Gypsum Ponds last summer.

AVON Men and women will brave the wet, cold weather in attempt to remove a noxious weed from our valley starting this week and continuing for about a month. Theyre going after tamarisk trees, a native of Asia that is now wreaking havoc on our American ecosystem.They crowd out everything, said Caroline Bradford, director of the Eagle River Watershed Council. Theres no diversity. Its so thick you cant even walk through it. We dont like that.

Bradford added that when the tams take over tracts of land, they consume or eliminate so many of the available resources, there isnt anything left for the native plants and animals to live on. Any tamarisk eradication overall has benefits for wildlife, based not only on how much water the tamarisk uses, but also for the other species that would thrive if they werent there, said Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton.Bradford admitted the job isnt for the faint of heart, but necessary nonetheless.

Doing away with the detrimental plants will include cutting them down with chainsaws and then spraying herbicides to ensure they dont return. After this falls cutting, the trees will need to be sprayed once or twice a year for three years to make sure they dont return.The Eagle County Weed and Pest Control, Eagle River Watershed Council, Colorado River Water Conservation District, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Division of Wildlife and Western Colorado Conservation Corps have all worked to make this project happen. Most of the labor will be provided by jail inmates from Garfield County. The project began in the spring with about 30 people working to eradicate eight acres of the noxious weed trees around Edwards and Gypsum. Now theyre continuing with their mission to eliminate the tree completely from the Eagle River watershed. The project, spanning 18 to 20 acres at the old Bear Ranch parcel now owned by the Bureau of Land Management, will hopefully halt the spread of tams upstream, Bradford said. But, even as work continues to stop the spread of the tamarisks, a massive infestation remains downstream. So far, the tams had made it as far upstream as Edwards where they were eliminated, but humans are putting the region at the greatest risk for re-infestation. For example, rafters pulling their boats out of the river may often unknowingly transport tam seeds upstream. We need to stop the spread of tams, and Glenwood Canyon offers an ideal place. Were going to cut it off, Bradford said. Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or nfrey@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado

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