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Thanks to investments from individuals like you, we have restored thousands of riverside acres impacted by invasive plants and continue to provide river restoration professionals and watershed groups with the knowledge, resources, funding and capacity to keep moving forward. To learn more about our yearly accomplishments and ongoing projects and collaboratives, view our annual reports by clicking on the links below.
Tamarisk Coalition was first conceptualized in 1999 when a small group of individuals from Mesa County, Colorado convened to discuss strategies for addressing invasive plant species, specifically tamarisk, a non-native plant that can cause degradation to riparian habitats, along rivers in western Colorado. The group named itself Tamarisk Coalition and achieved legal status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in May 2002.
Propelled by a desire to shape a landscape-scale solution to address tamarisk impacts rather than the more conventional site by site approach, the board of directors decided to expand the geographic scope beyond western Colorado to include all areas impacted by tamarisk in the western United States. We now maintain partnerships with many federal, state, and community organizations throughout the American West.
An outcome of our landscape-scale approach and a key milestone in our history was the 2006 passage of the Salt Cedar and Russian Olive Demonstration and Control Act, in which our role centered on outreach and education. This initiative built national awareness of the impacts of tamarisk and Russian olive and paved the way for important scientific assessments by both United States Geological Survey and Tamarisk Coalition of those impacts and potential solutions.
More Than Just Tamarisk
As our geographic scope expanded, so did our approach to enhancing riverside habitat.
In the beginning, our actions were dominated by advancing the art of effectively controlling tamarisk and associated invasive plants (e.g. Russian olive, grasses such as cheatgrass and giant reed, and forbs such as Russian knapweed and kochia) through information sharing and coordination among partners.
We made it a priority to think about riparian restoration as a whole and included components such as revegetation best management practices, long-term funding procurement, monitoring, and maintenance, in order to support systems instrumental to holistic restoration. These support systems include local level partnerships, communication and policy frameworks, and financial resources to address the many needs of our partners in achieving healthy and self-sustaining river systems. The topics presented at our annual symposia and research conferences, conducted nearly every year since 2001, follow this trend and provide us with a chronology of both our evolution as an organization and the developments in the science and experience of our partners.
Through this evolution, we have retained an emphasis on flexibility and responsiveness to our partners’ needs. One clear example of this began in 2007, when, amidst uncertainty about the impacts of the United States Department of Agriculture release of a tamarisk biological agent, the tamarisk beetle, we partnered with concerned experts to develop a coordinated monitoring program to document the dispersal of the beetle on a landscape-scale.
The program, combined with targeted outreach on the results, has proven effective in providing information to on-the-ground managers about the beetle’s movement and potential impacts. Currently, partners from Texas to Utah participate in this large-scale effort and the information has been used to empower restoration professionals to make informed decisions on how to respond to the beetle and incorporate it as a management strategy.
Working at a Landscape-Scale
Our work monitoring the tamarisk leaf beetle exemplifies another one of our strengths: our ability to work across jurisdictional boundaries. Since 2004, we have worked with states and watersheds to help them plan and implement collaborative, inter-agency, and cross-sector approaches to riparian restoration.
Some outcomes included strategic restoration plans for the states of Colorado, New Mexico, and Kansas, and the watersheds of the Arkansas River, Purgatoire River, Southeastern Utah, Dolores River, Republican River, and Northwest Colorado region. These plans have served as models and paved the way for Tamarisk Coalition and other organizations to assist local partnerships with planning and implementing riparian restoration.