July 1, 2012--Fighting invasive species on the Dolores River (Telluride Daily Planet)

Exotic species invading local ecosystems has long been a problem in Colorado, but along the Dolores River a program is in place to push some species back. Problem species that sprout up on the banks of the scenic southern Colorado waterway include mainly tamarisk, but also Siberian elm and Russian knapweed, which can outcompete local species of grasses, trees and shrubs. But since 2009 a series of new programs to help restore riparian areas have been in place along the Dolores River, and this summer, plans are to try and gain control of invasive species from the river’s upper reaches near McPhee Dam to its confluence with the Colorado River. “I don’t know if we’ll ever completely get rid of them,” Rick Schnaderbeck with the US Fish and Wildlife Service said. “There will always be a few that pop up here and there, but we definitely need to address the issue because when you get anything that becomes a monotype, and when it’s an exotic species, it just really alters that whole riparian ecosystem.” Many of the programs involve government and non-profit agencies working together to reduce the number of invasive species along the river, which begins in a forest of pines and drops into the desert of southwestern Colorado, winding through spectacular red rock canyons before finding its way to the Colorado River. The program will involve work on public as well as private lands.

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