Forever Our Rivers Foundation awarded a $158,000 grant to the Conservation legacy to help keep “rivers healthy and flowing for future generations,” according to the news release sent out by Forever Our Rivers Foundation Executive Director Ann Johnston.
This grant will allow conservation crews to have extra help as they continue working to improve conditions in the Colorado River Basin.
Members of the conservation crews will work to remove invasive plants and keep nonnative plant species such as tamarisk and Russian olive from taking root along the Colorado River, while boosting and nurturing plant species that are native to the Four Corners states of specifically in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.
“When harmful invasives are removed and replaced with native plants, the resulting increased biodiversity allows ecosystems to thrive and become more resilient to a changing climate,” the news release said.
“Combating invasive species is essential, and not only for protecting our unsurpassed hiking, fishing and boating experiences,” Johnston added. “Rivers and streams are far more important than the water running through them.”
Crews will be led by the Conservation Legacy, located in Durango, and will partner with other groups in Dolores, Escalante, Verde and Gila Rivers in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. They will also be partnering with local nonprofits in the areas of the listed rivers to continue growing the community interest and impact on local waterways.
“The funding not only progresses the vital restoration efforts of the watershed partnerships, it educates youths by engaging them directly with the work and helps build the next generation of land stewards,” said Conservation Legacy’s Watershed Program’s Manager Nate Peters.
The news release spoke of the invasive Russian olive and tamarisk that were introduced to the area in the 1950s, saying they are choking out waterways, narrowing water channels and harming native plants such as cottonwoods and willows.
Part of the grant allows crews to treat Russian olives and tamarisk, which has led to renewed growth of native plant species and widening of waterways.
“In other words, treatment not only allows for the recovery of native vegetation but also restores more natural river geomorphology and meander. It also lowers fire danger and improves river access,” the news release said.
Conservation Legacy and the Southwest Conservation Crews will be working along waterways in the Four Corners’ states and continuing their treatment of Russian olive and tamarisk throughout the summer and fall of 2023.