Tag: saltcedar

Feds nix bugs for tamarisk control on Colorado River

A nest of southwestern willow flycatchers nesting in saltcedar. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.

Impacts to endangered birds at issue; latest studies show the non-native plants don’t use as much water as previously believed

SUMMIT COUNTY — Land managers looking for ways to control invasive tamarisk trees in the Colorado River Basin may have to search for a new tool.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has terminated the use of a non-native insect used to destroy tamarisk after concluding that the bug was destroying critical habitat used by the southwestern willow flycatcher, listed as endangered by the federal government. The decision, announced in a June 15 memo, affects biological control efforts in 13 states.

Tamarisk, also called saltcellar, is native to the Mediterranean and central Asian region. It was brought to the U.S. to be used as a windbreak and for ornamental purposes. It quickly spread across at least 1.5 million acres in the arid climate and alkaline soils of the Southwest. In an ironic twist, the endangered flycatcher has taken to nesting in tamarisk.

In the past 10 years, various public agencies launched a costly and labor-intensive effort to prevent the stubborn shrub from spreading farther, and to eradicate it in areas where it’s already established. Initial estimates of tamarisk water use were alarming, which created a sense of urgency.  Continue reading “Feds nix bugs for tamarisk control on Colorado River”