Tamarisk control, water salvage, and wildlife habitat restoration along rivers in the western United States

Product Type: 

Fact Sheet

Year: 

2006

Author(s): 

Shafroth, P.B

Suggested Citation: 

Shafroth, P.B. 2006. Tamarisk control, water salvage, and wildlife habitat restoration along rivers in the western United States. Fact Sheet 2006-3071. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Geological Survey. 2 p.

In the latter part of the 19th century, species of the nonnative shrub tamarisk (also called saltcedar; for example, Tamarix ramosissima, T. chinensis) were introduced to the United States for use as ornamental plants for erosion control. By 1877, some naturalized populations had become established, and by the 1960s, tamarisk was present along most rivers in the semi-arid and arid parts of the West and was quite abundant along downstream ranches of the major southwest rivers such as the Colorado, Rio Grande, Gila, and Pecos. The principal period of tamarisk invasion coincided with changing physical conditions along western rivers associated with the construction and operation of dams. In many cases, these altered physical conditions appear to have been more favorable for tamarisk than native riparian competitors like cottonwoods and willows (Populus and Salix; Glenn and Nagler, 2005)…