GCPBA RiverNews 8/9/12 – Granite Camp Tamarisk Control Project to Begin In Fall, 2012

GCPBA RiverNews 8/9/12 - Granite Camp Tamarisk Control Project to Begin In Fall, 2012

Grand Canyon National Park, in collaboration with other partners, is conducting a pilot stewardship project at Granite Camp and within the Monument Creek Watershed. This is a very popular area for backcountry and river users, but like many areas within the Colorado River corridor has been adversely impacted by the operations of Glen Canyon Dam, high recreational use, and the introduction of non-native plant species, particularly tamarisk (Tamarisk spp.). The goals of this pilot project are to rehabilitate the native riparian plant community and wildlife habitat, to recover data from and stabilize a threatened prehistoric archaeological site (completed), and to enrich the overall visitor experience.

The work at Granite Camp will be implemented in phases, starting with an assessment of current site conditions that includes a vegetation inventory, soil sampling, and the installation of temporary groundwater monitoring wells. Data from the site assessment will help to determine which native species are best suited to be used for revegetation in different parts of the site. The primary treatment area will be at the river camp, downriver from the boat docking and kitchen areas to the confluence with Monument Creek.

Starting this fall, some tamarisk will be selectively controlled and removed within the treatment area. It is important to note that NOT all tamarisk will be removed within the treatment area and that NONE of the mature tamarisk used to tie off boats and that provide shade for the main kitchen area will be removed as part of this project.

Starting in 2013, native species will be planted at the site. These plantings will require frequent watering by hand and/or drip irrigation to become successfully established. Some species that will be planted at the site, such as Gooddings Willow and Cottonwood, will also need to be caged to protect them from beaver herbivory.

The arrival of tamarisk leaf beetles (Diorhabda spp.) within the Colorado River corridor in the park will likely result in the widespread mortality of tamarisk which may have unknown and possibly adverse effects on the riparian ecosystem as well as visitor experience. While the beetle has not yet arrived at Granite Camp, results from this pilot project will help to assess the feasibility of proactively planting native species at other sites along the river that are currently dominated by tamarisk.

Work crews will be present intermittently at the site through the Spring of 2013. While all efforts will be made to minimize impacts to visitors, on-site work may still be disruptive and limit opportunities for a wilderness experience.

This work is funded via Grand Canyon Association by a grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and by National Park Service Concession Franchise Fees.

For more information, please visit http://www.nps.gov/grca/naturescience/granite.htm (noting this site should be live by the end of July) or contact Todd Chaudhry, Watershed Stewardship Program Manager, at 928-638-7448 or todd_chaudhry@nps.gov .

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