by Tom Slabe and Steve Johnson
It has been a fairly damp and cool spring along the Front Range. Virtually everywhere you look the landscape is green. The Front Range streams have been running at bank-full or higher throughout much of the 2007 spring season. Although this may not be great for coaxing fat trout with olive caddises, it may improve a stream’s medium-range health outlook. However, is that really the case when a large percentage of riparian vegetation consists of aggressive invasive species? This may sound like a possible topic for a Masters thesis; however, from a practical standpoint, invasive species are a major concern and they must be appropriately managed to minimize competition with beneficial native species. Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV), in partnership with Colorado State Parks, is doing just that – aggressively managing invasive species, such as Chinese tamarisk, Siberian elm, Russian olive, and others. Alan Carpenter describes their management strategy for these weeds in St. Vrain State Park.
In addition to the St. Vrain State Park project, WRV is presently engaged in restoring diverse ecosystems in Colorado, including removing aggressive Mediterranean sage from a high plains prairie, trail rehabilitation in alpine wilderness areas, planting various native riparian species in Rocky Mountain National Park, and removing aggressive Eurasian watermilfoil from Front Range stream channels. Visit http://www.wlrv.org/ for summaries of all this year’s projects and training.
May was National Wetlands Month. This focus on wetlands brought up the question of what exactly is a wetland – an easy question to answer in theory but not in practice. There are deep controversies concerning wetlands that must be resolved if the Nation is to protect existing inventories and restore those that have been lost over the centuries. Fortunately, although significant controversy remains, society continues to place greater value on wetlands, including healthy and functioning riparian habitats, and there is a general trend towards increased protection of these valuable resources. Following on the Rapanos vs. United States Supreme Courts’ decision in late 2006, and in celebration of National Wetlands Month, CRA thought it appropriate to include an article on wetlands, which we hope will be of interest to you.
As a reminder, please register early for this October’s Joint Conference, which promises to clarify the connections between water quality and watersheds and to facilitate networking connections between everyone in attendance. Sponsors of this year’s conference include the Colorado Watershed Network, Colorado Watershed Assembly, AWARE Colorado / League of Women Voters of Colorado Education Fund, Colorado Lake &: Reservoir Management Association, and Colorado Riparian Association. Read the Save the Date notice below. In addition, the green line is seeking your contributions. Please contact us if you have an article to share with your CRA associates.