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Tamarisk eradication.

Most tree lovers aren't inclined to wield a saw, much less seek the elimination of an entire species from an ecosystem. In the case of the Grand Canyon tamarisk hunters, however, this is protocol. Their target? Tamarisk ramosissima--the dreaded invader of Western riparian ecosystems.

Tamarisk trees were introduced to America from the Mediterranean in the mid-1800s. The species flourished in its new home, and now river corridors throughout the Southwestern U.S. are choked with the invasive trees. Tamarisk trees increase ground salinity, and inhibit the growth of native species. This in turn limits food sources, and thus displaces animal life. Worse yet, tamarisk groves siphon precious springs in an arid land.

Fortunately, in the side canyons of Grand Canyon, tamarisk is on its way out. Groups of park service volunteers have been backpacking and rafting to remote tamarisk thickets within the Canyon and cutting the invasive trees.

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Volunteering to be a tammy hunter can get you on a free backpacking or rafting trip in the world's greatest canyon, but these trips are no paid vacations. Tamarisk backpacking trips require participants to carry loads of 60 to 80 pounds, and the river trips are done mostly in the cold of winter. After reaching the tamarisk groves, volunteers must first dig out tree trunks from beneath compacted flood debris, then cut them manually--no chainsaws allowed here. The exposed stumps are painted with herbicide to inhibit regrowth.

The park service searched for an effective but low impact herbicide for the project, and chose garlon. This low mobility, short life span herbicide is absorbed by the stumps and kills tamarisk roots, but goes no farther. Without the herbicide treatment, the resilient trees resprout rapidly, and all the saw work is for naught.

Results from the project have been impressive. Native plants like Fremont cottonwood and seep willow have recolonized treated areas, and springs that were nearly sucked dry from tamarisk are returning to historical flows.

So the next time you are in Grand Canyon, take a hike and be glad you're not toting a handsaw. You might even spot the leveled remnants of tamarisk thickets among the fresh green leaves of the returning natives.
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Tim Hargreaves
Timothy Wynn Hargreaves (Member): Tamarisk Trees 1/22/2008 8:34 AM
In Australia absolutely the opposite experience.They are about the ONLY tree that will grow in salty conditions and what with providing shade enable stock to shelter underneath from the scorching sun.Their presence encourages bird life of all manner of species.I am referring to ares of low rainfll - say 8 inches and less p.a.
They have their enemies as in the US - notably 'conservationists'and their ilk.They are a popular source of food for camels and goats and one of the ew trees which do not readily burn in bush fires.As a timber for building structures they do not sucumb to white ant and make for excellent wood turning.I cannot speak more highly of them.
They are not a good tree to park under at night as they drop a resin that harms paint and readily wreck havoc with septics and leach drais.

Tim Hargreaves - Box 50 Shark Bay PO.,Western Australia tel 08 99 481 338

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Title Annotation:News from the world of Trees
Author:Williams, Tyler
Publication:American Forests
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Words:367
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