Showing posts with label tamarisk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tamarisk. Show all posts

March 17, 2015

On the Road — By the Lower Colorado River (2)

"Yuma Landing 1885" by George Rothrock (Wikimedia Commons).
The Colorado River today is not big enough for steamboats at Yuma, Arizona.
Today's walk came courtesy of an article in Orion, "Down by the River," written by Rowan Jacobsen.

M. and I were headed here anyway to visit my sister and brother-in-law, but we did not know that Yuma, Arizona, is a place where the tamarisk (salt cedar) invasion has been driven back significantly.
Few areas were hit harder [by tamarisk[ than Yuma, and the calamity went beyond the tremendous loss of biodiversity. In 1999, community developer Charlie Flynn took the helm of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, which is part of the National Park Service’s program to foster community-driven stewardship of important natural or cultural landscapes. His task was to bring the riverfront back to life, but he found the area so overgrown with invasive tamarisk thickets that no one could get near the water, and in the few places where people could, they didn’t dare because of drug smugglers who used the abandoned waterway as a thoroughfare. “Once all the non-native vegetation grew up, it was the perfect breeding ground for drug traffic, meth labs, hobo camps, trash dumps,” Flynn explained to me. “You name it, it was down there. It was a no man’s land. People just didn’t go to the river. They were afraid to. Even the police hated going down there. You couldn’t see two feet ahead of you.”
Now you have people like us walking around with binoculars, excited to see birds that are probably commonplace here but not in so much southern Colorado — black phoebe, great-tailed grackles — and American coots, which are common enough in, for instance, the San Luis Valley, but I am not used to seeing little flocks of them walking around in city parks.

At least one of those hobos, whose road name was Lucky, gets his own interpretive sign. Found camping in the thickets, he took a job on the restoration crew and is credited with planting 5,000 trees.
Leveled and diked, some areas can be flooded with water pumped from the river.

Instant cottonwood grove, with drip irrigation.
Built in 1915, closed in the 1980s, reopened in 2002, the Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge is the near one.
The farther bridge carries the railroad (BNSF and Amtrak).

On the Road: By the Lower Colorado River

(Credit: Cornell University)
Two Eurasian collared doves are having hot dove sex on a roof across the street — feathers float down — while others provide a raucous chorus. And there are mockingbirds. I must be back in southern Arizona.

Next: a trip to a historic battlefield in the War Against Tamarisk.

November 06, 2013

Blog Stew with Shredded Tamarisk

¶ In Palisade, Colo., there is an anti-tamarisk militia.

¶ The northern Colorado secession movement did not do too well at the ballot box.  The question is whether it was any sort of symbolic victory.

¶ An Indiana deer hunter is paralyzed by a fall from a tree stand. He tells his doctors to "pull the plug."  Do you wonder if his hunting experiences made him less likely to cling to life as a quadriplegic? There is a possible hint of that in the article.

July 31, 2013

Cloning Mammoths is Harder than You Think

Woolly mammoth left, American mastodon right (Wikipedia).
As much as I cherish the idea of a "Pleistocene Park" with woolly mammoths wandering around, the lack of good cellular material is a huge obstacle.

In a Guardian article, Sir Ian Wilmut of Dolly the sheep fame describes the problems.
Though it is unlikely that a mammoth could be cloned in the same way as Dolly, more modern techniques that convert tissue cells into stem cells could potentially achieve the feat, Wilmut says in an article today for the academic journalism website, The Conversation.
"I've always been very sceptical about the whole idea, but it dawned on me that if you could clear the first hurdle of getting viable cells from mammoths, you might be able to do something useful and interesting," Wilmut told the Guardian.
 First we get mammoths (or mastodons), then we get them to eat tamarisk.

September 18, 2012

On the Road: The Kudzu of the Coast

Of the invasive plants in my country, I think that tamarisk and cheatgrass are the worst.

On the recent train trip to California, I saw stands of tamarisk that looked mostly defoliated along the Colorado River downstream from Dotsero. Maybe the beetles are starting to have an effect.

California has its own problems with invasive species — Scotch broom was one that I knew about.

The Monterey Peninsula, where M. and I were staying, offers every kind of succulent from everywhere (particularly southern Africa). It reminded me of places that I have visited in southern England, where the horticultural spoils of empire adorn thousands of suburban gardens.
Ice plant on coastal dune, Pacific Grove, California
There ice plant is the villain. Like kudzu in the South, it was introduced partly for erosion control on highway cut banks and such — and it controlled and controlled until it had driven everything else away and formed big solid monocultural mats.
Death to ice plant!
At least it comes up easier than kudzu.

January 02, 2011

Eating Invasive Species

In some quarters (such as certain large, metropolitan newspapers), the whole "locavore" concept has cast hunting in a new, more favorable light. Not just for knuckle-draggers anymore, in other words.

Combine that with a concern about ecosystems and invasive species, and you have "eating invasive species."

Now if only some high-profile chef would laud the culinary wonderfulness of grilling with tamarisk, like the "mesquite-grilled" craze of a few years back.

May 29, 2009

Blog Stew with Mystery Mustelids

• A landowner near Granada, Colorado, sees more water after tamarisk is controlled--but it's a constant fight.

• An Englishman tries to "go green" with a home wind turbine. He goes through all the planning bureaucracy, builds it, and ends up facing the dreaded ASBO, not to mention a big fine.

"Everyone is encouraged to be environmentally friendly, and we wanted to do our bit. We never dreamed that going green would land us in court and £25,000 out of pocket."

• A game camera verifies that re-introduced fishers have been reproducing in Washington state. As for our mystery beasts of four years ago and earlier, the jury is still out whether they were fishers or just big pine martens.

• Playing paintball with coyotes.

December 04, 2008

The Huerfano River at Doyle

This what a High Plains river looks like: the Huerfano River in southern Pueblo County, flowing northeast towards the Arkansas River.
Huerfano River at Doyle bridge, looking upstreamLooking upstream to the southwest.

Huerfano River at Doyle Bridge, looking NE.Looking downstream towards the northeast.

Huerfano River at Doyle bridge, looking downstream. An historical marker near the bridge where the photos above were taken. Click the photo for a more readable image.

Yes, in Colorado this stream counts as a "river." It only goes dry occasionally. In May it might be rambunctious, during the snow melt.

Some tamarisk and Russian olive removal needs to be done here, as in so many places.

October 15, 2008

Tamarisk-Eating Beetles Expand Territory

A little progress in the war on tamarisk -- imported tamarisk-eating beetles are spreading in Fremont County.

Tamarisk-eating beetles found in Fremont County likely are the descendants of bugs that were released in a nearby area two years ago, providing some hope that beetles released elsewhere in Southeastern Colorado could turn up later.

You go, beetles.

February 27, 2008

Blog Stew with Perennials

• The Rocky calls the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel problem overblown.

Leadville Mayor Bud Elliott said he is furious at [state Senator Tom] Wiens and the commissioners, saying they "grossly mismanaged" the matter and accused them of "staging" the emergency.The fallout, he said, includes skiers canceling trips, collapsed real estate deals, and another black eye for a town still reeling from its inclusion as part of a Superfund cleanup site in the 1980s.

The trapped water is still in the tunnel, but the squabble seems to be over the urgency of removing it.

I have had the feeling before that Lake County politics can become fairly overheated. How many recall elections have there been in the last decade or so? (Hat tip: Colorado Confidential.)

• Where is the tamarisk problem? Right here in the Arkansas Valley.

• This announcement about global cooling has been getting lots of attention, especially from people who see it as a club to beat up on Democrats and environmentalists (not necessarily the same thing).

At Natural Patriot, Emmett Duffy correlates climate change with wars, etc.

November 06, 2007

Paying for Tamarisk Removal

Western river with and without invasive tamarisk. Graphic: The Pueblo Chieftain
The fight against invasive tamarisk continues, with an emphasis on what happens if we don't.

Today, the tamarisk are consuming about 58,600 acre-feet of water - 19 billion gallons - annually, but the number will grow to nearly 130,000 acre-feet annually - one-fifth of the water in the river in an average year - when the plants completely take over and grow larger. The cost to remove the tamarisk is estimated to be $44 million to $67 million, or about $600-$1,000 per acre-foot of recovered water.

Tamarisk, the Colorado nature-blogger's friend. Graphic linked from The Pueblo Chieftain

June 13, 2007

Kudzu, Tamarisk & a Proposed New Holiday

So I am here at the ASLE conference, down as far in the South as I have been in some years, and I meet at a reception a man from a local anti-kudzu group called Knock Out Kudzu.

When I told him about the kudzu-infested farm in SE Missouri that my sister once owned, he seemed a little skeptical. (Joke: She bought it in the summer, and when winter came, discovered a couple of more small outbuildings that had been lost in the kudzu growth.) Maybe her place was the northernmost outpost of kudzu, I don't really know.

Knock Out Kudzu is all about removing the stuff through mechanical means without using herbicides and letting the native vegetation come up in its place. Good for them. May they flourish like ... uh, kudzu.

I wish tamarisk control were as easy. When I mentioned tamarisk, his face was blank. Regional differences. But when I talked to a Californian, she countered with eucalyptus (water-sucking fire hazard), so we at least had an understanding. (Tamarisk sucks water and makes its soil saltier.)

Mistakenly, I once thought that tamarisk could be blamed on Frank Meyer, but apparently it arrived in the American Southwest several generations earlier. But we can blame him for Russian olive infestations now considered partners in crime with tamarisk when it comes to ruining native biological diversity.

If the native-plants advocates want to lose all of their genteel garden club image, they could start an annual holiday on which Frank Meyer is burned in effigy, like Guy Fawkes in England. Banners could proclaim, "American Vegetation Does Not Need Improving," or something like that. And in the South they could burn Channing Cope, feeding the blaze with kudzu vines.

Just a thought.

March 23, 2007

Slime mold runs a robot

This is a little off-topic but still fascinatng: A robot controlled by slime mold.

The Physarum polycephalum slime, which naturally shies away from light, controls the robot's movement so that it too keeps out of light and seeks out dark places in which to hide itself.

Earlier, there was the robot that generated power by catching flies.

I am waiting for the robot that digests tamarisk. I can see it, a twenty-foot high hexapod, slowly grazing along the Arkansas River somewhere downstream from Pueblo, gently raising its mechanical legs over the barbed-wire fences.

November 05, 2006

The tamarisk war

Pluvialis blogged her research trip to Uzbekistan and gave me a shudder, for she included a forest of poplar and tamarisk.

After years of regarding tamarisk as a horrible invasive pest in Colorado and elsewhere, you tend to forget that there is another part of the world where it is part of a functioning ecosystem.

Charles Bedford of the Nature Conservancy writes in today's Denver Post of the creation of the (deep breath) Salt Cedar and Russian Olive Control Assessment and Demonstration Act, now in Congress. (Salt cedar=tamarisk)

The photo shows tamarisk on the Colorado River in the lower Grand Canyon (Dept. of the Interior).

Tamarisk trees in lower Grand CanyonThe indictment:

Its prolific seeds and high salt content enable it to quickly replace native cottonwoods, willows, grasses and other plants, degrading the habitat for native wildlife, especially birds. Its spread also decreases forage for livestock and increases fire hazards.

But what drives the funding is the water it sucks up (as do cottonwoods, willows, etc., but let's not go there).

Today's Pueblo Chieftain had two articles: goats versus tamarisk and beetles versus tamarisk. I have mentioned the beetle trials before. (Links may expire.)

First the goats:

On cue, a few of the more media-savvy goats began furiously gnawing on small tamarisk plants by the river, knocking them over and munching down branches like so many French fries.

Which must be how they taste. Tamarisk, also known as salt cedar, are infamous for leaching salt to the surface. Their leaves increase the salinity of the very ground they grow in. Goats are one of the few animals that find them tasty.

As to the beetles, sometimes bureaucracy's right hand knows not what the left hand does:

In 2001, the beetles were released, but so far have not ventured far from the original test site below Pueblo Dam, because there are few large stands in the immediate area and their population has been knocked back by mosquito spraying.

However, if you view tamarisk as intrinsically evil, I suppose that the Uzbek ranger on horseback would like to have some words with you.

July 29, 2006

Die, tamarisk, die!

Coyote Gulch links to a hopeful piece of news: a biological control for the invasive, wildlife-habitat-destroying tamarisk may just be working. (Newspaper link may expire.)

From the Rocky Mountain News:

Releases in 2001 at four sites, two in Nevada and two in Utah, have matured and beetles are defoliating hundreds of acres of tamarisk. . . . beetles released in 2004 near Moab, Utah, are taking hold.

The tamarisk, a tree native to Eurasia, has crowded out native species such as willows and cottonwoods and sucked up vast amounts of water in the West.

Labor-intensive efforts to eradicate tamarisk cost $1,500 to $3,000 per acre. The tamarisk leaf beetles may be able to do the job for less than $10 per acre, according to U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Mel Lloyd.

May 31, 2005

Darkness at Noon

Britons feud over sudden shade in the back garden. Now there is a campaign against problem hedges. Bureaucrats become involved.

The villain is a cross between the Monterrey and Nootka cypresses, both native to the West Coast of North America. In this case, "hybrid vigor" has produced a fast-growing tree that is peddled for people who want instant hedges.

I don't consider myself to be a "native-plant Nazi," but the temptation is to say, "See, this is what happens when you bring in something and plant it everywhere."

Kudzu, anyone? Tamarisk? Russian olive?

I was raised with the doctrine myself: plant trees, beautify your property. Shelterbelts save on heating and cooling bills. Etc. Dad and I planted rows of Siberian ("Chinese") elms and even some Russian olives.

Lilacs, too. It's hard to hate lilacs.

But really, you are better off sticking with natives. Chances are that birds and beneficial insects will appreciate your choice.

April 16, 2005

Speaking of Invasive Species...

Tom Leskiw thinks about tamarisk and cottonwoods in this short essay.

Somewhere along the line, cottonwoods became my favorite tree. It’s natural to want to root for the underdog: of the 106 forest types in North America, the Fremont cottonwood/ Goodding willow association is considered the most threatened.