RESTORING RIVERSIDE VEGETATION
Rivers are essential to all life and our economy. Although they occupy less than one percent of the Earth’s surface, the global value of their ecosystem services is estimated in the trillions of dollars. Healthy watersheds provide critically important services, including erosion control, filtering clean drinking water, habitat for wildlife, carbon sequestration, and recreational, cultural, and aesthetic values.
In many parts of the world, human activities have heavily impacted river systems. Invasive, exotic plants, which displace native vegetation, have interfered with the healthy functioning of river systems and the services they provide. In the Southwestern United States, non-native tamarisk (or saltcedar) has invaded nearly 1.6 million acres of floodplains. Tamarisk spreads aggressively, decreases stream channel width and increases the impacts of flooding, decreases biodiversity, and increases the frequency and intensity of wildfire. When present on upper floodplain terraces, dense stands of tamarisk can consume more water than native vegetation adapted to dry conditions.
Our restoration work focuses on removing dense thickets of non-native plants and replanting native species to restore habitat integrity and ensure sustainability. Our methods combine hand-clearing with limited mechanical clearing for optimum results. Hand-clearing of invasive species has been shown to result in less soil disturbance with faster and more resilient re-growth of replanted areas. At the same time, hand-clearing and planting create temporary employment opportunities for local community members.
RIVER RESTORATION TUTORIALS
These following slideshows are designed to take the viewer on a “tour” of riparian restoration project sites in the lower Colorado River basin, and provide information on planning and executing riparian restoration projects in this region.
Limitrophe 2009: View the community-based riparian restoration work of Pronatura México A.C., Region Noreste, where a stretch of the lower Colorado River forms the US-Mexico border. The Pronatura restoration model generates healthier riparian systems and economic benefits, by incorporating job creation, job skills training, and grass-roots community involvement.
YEW 2009: On-going restoration work began a decade ago in the Yuma East Wetlands and West Wetlands Park- now these areas are restoration success stories on a national scale.
Yuma Riparian Restoration Workshop 2010: Revisit the Yuma East Wetlands- this time for some hands-on restoration work. Slideshow includes “tools of the trade” and lessons learned by the experts Fred Phillips Consulting.
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