Do Not Import Russian Olive and Tamarisk Trees
Russian olive and tamarisk – also known as salt cedar – were brought to this country in the late 1800s in an effort to control erosion and provide decorative landscaping, however it was soon discovered that the fast growing trees cause much more damage than any benefits they provide.
Today, many areas, primarily riparian habitat along many lakes, rivers and streams in Colorado, are lined with a large number of both Russian olive and tamarisk trees. By many estimates, 90 percent of Colorado’s wildlife species depends upon riparian habitat during all or part of their life cycle, making removal of the harmful trees a priority for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“The public may not realize that many of the trees they see lining bodies of water are these harmful non-native species,” said JT Romatzke, Area Wildlife Manager in Grand Junction. “We are planning to remove them from several of our local State Wildlife Areas and parks, then replace them with native plant species that our wildlife needs for health and survival.”
Romatzke adds that habitat improvement projects are among the most important of all management efforts, having significant impacts upon the long-term survival of many of the state’s wildlife species.
Russian olive and tamarisk take in much more water than native plants, out-competing them for available moisture and nutrients. The deep roots of tamarisk bring up salts from the ground creating an inhospitable growing environment for other species. In addition, where they exist in large numbers, they have led to reduced water flows in rivers and streams, a concern during periods of drought.