February on the Preserve

Cutting a Trail in the Wetlands and Tagging Tamarisk Trees


Tamarisk trees aka salt cedars are not native to California or the American Southwest. These wispy bushes and trees with pretty feathery pink flowers attract bees, dragonflies, and hummingbirds. But they are also a scary sight, so scary that Matthew Chew, an Arizona State biology professor calls them monsters. (smithsonianmag.com)

Tamarisk were brought into the United States from Europe in the 1800s, with the approval of the federal government, to help control erosion. As the plant established itself along stream banks, nature conservancy groups discovered its harmful effects of sucking large amounts of valuable water from the ground, turning desert streams and ponds into salty dry basins. Tamarisk consumes so much water and takes over spaces where grasses to feed cattle grow. The tamarisk is now listed as an invasive plant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (smithsonianmag.com)

selectree.calpoly.edu
arizonesis.org

Last spring and summer, Jeff and I pulled tamarisk seedlings and small bushes along the stream behind Squaw Hill and across Thousand Palms Canyon Road heading south toward Washington Street.

And we continued “streaming for tamarisk” throughout this season (October through April) always on the lookout for trees in the wash or camouflaged in the brush. Tamarisk seedlings were always present!


When Ginny asked me if I would like to help her blaze a trail through the wetlands, parallel to the McCallum Trail, to access invasive tamarisk trees… I jumped at the chance to participate! She used a power saw to chop through small trees and roots while I followed her with trimmers to whack away the overhanging reeds and help stomp down the rest that cushioned our pathway over the water.

We discovered our efforts were being supervised by…

Can you see who?

Who…hooooooooo is a long-eared owl!

There’s always something unexpected and exciting around the corner on the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve!


And always something dependable and educational on Sunday mornings…

Docent Don explains the geology of the Oasis Preserve caused by the San Andreas Fault on which everyone is standing.