Weed Wars!

Defending Matheson Preserve Against Invasive Species

The Conservancy, working with the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the South Eastern Utah Tamarisk Partnership, is pursuing a major ecological restoration program involving volunteers from the Moab community.

Like much of the West’s native ecosystems, the wetlands of the Colorado River are under siege from invasive species such as tamarisk and Russian olive.  These non-native species hoard light, space and nutrients, and can alter entire ecosystems and impact native wildlife habitat. 

Thanks to growing community concern and support, the Conservancy is taking action. Last fall, with funding from the ERM Group Foundation, the Conservancy worked to tackle tamarisk along Mill Creek in the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve. After removing the invasives, the Conservancy and community volunteers began gathering to plant new willows, cottonwoods and a variety of native shrubs, grasses and seeds.  The revegetation is a key step in the Conservancy's 5-year strategic plan to control invasives and improve wildlife habitat in the preserve.

The project includes an intensive monitoring program to determine project success including staff, volunteer and contractor time revisiting the project area, treating sprouts or other invasive plants, monitoring the survivability of the planted stock, and building future projects. The Conservancy plans to share the tactics and lessons learned on the Matheson Wetlands restoration project with other organizations, local governments and agencies interested in doing similar restoration projects around the West.

To help with the Conservancy's invasive projects along the Colorado River, contact Linda Whitham at 435-259-4629.  

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