In 2016, CCA received funding from the Colorado Water Conservation Board to conduct restoration and vegetation monitoring projects for a few riparian sites along the Colorado River in Ruby and Horsethief Canyons within the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. This January, CCA is working with the BLM to mechanically remove eight acres of tamarisk from a site known as Horsethief Bottom. This site is located near the popular Kokopelli Loops bike trail system on the Colorado River.
Of note for this project, is the rich restoration legacy of the Horsethief Bottom site. Specifically,the famous tamarisk beetle which defoliates and eventually kills the invasive tamarisk were first released at Horsethief Bottom. Though many of the original tamarisk trees are now dead thanks to the hungry beetles, they remain on the site as a testament to the success of the beetle. Now that the beetle has traveled along the waterways of the southwest to continue its work, we can remove tamarisk at Horsethief Bottom to give native plants a chance to thrive. Following the mechanical removal, CCA will continue to restore Horsethief Bottom for the next five years by monitoring tamarisk growth and cutting new sprouts with volunteers and the BLM. Our work on Horsethief Bottom is far from over. Updates on the progress of the mechanical treatment and volunteer opportunities are soon to come.
UPDATE: January 25th, 2017
Mechanical removal of tamarisk is now completed! In just one week the machine ripped up 8.7 acres of tamarisk on the 10.4 acre Horsethief Bottom.
Once removed, the tamarisk was moved into 35 piles for burning. The BLM will burn the piles over the winter as weather permits. The tamarisk removal has already drastically changed the site and you can now see cottonwoods from the river. CCA and BLM are currently planning restoration projects for volunteers this spring, which could include cottonwood plantings and native seed dispersal.