Green River Utah and Tamarisk

Hi all. I have heard that tamarisk has pretty much taken over the lower Green River through Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons, and that it is so thick that it prevents access to areas that might otherwise be used for camping. I was there in 1997 and in 2006 and the increase in the amount of tamarisk from '97 to '06 was significant.

I’m hoping to do a trip in the fall this year when water levels are low, but some acquaintances have cautioned me that the tamarisk may be too severe to allow an enjoyable trip. Does anyone have any insight into this issue? I understand that a beetle has been introduced to help get rid of the tamarisk, but it will take years before any real improvements are seen. Thanks for any advice.

chop, chop
bring a set of loppers to clear a path wherever you might want or need to - a pair of leather work gloves won’t hurt either. usually the tamarisk is heavy at teh shoreline, but none under the cottonwood trees that are farther back

There are a hundred PLUS people a week paddling that section.

Nothing has stopped them. Just saying.

Yeah there are a lot of tammis, just go!

salt cedar

Imperial Dam’s foredam area is a bird refuge for Mexican birds flying north on thunderstorms out of the Sea of Cortez and Grand Desierto eat of Yuma. Mittry Lake.

overrun with salt cedar, then bulldozed and reshaped.

Ugly plant.

The Rio was written as overrun with salt cedar ruining the marsh plant riverine ambience. I didn’t find that between Talley and Heath.

paths will appear with heavy camping traffic.

Lopper self defense
Last trip out there, my buddy and I met up with 6 other guys. We did the normal gear shake out before heading to the shuttle. The other six guys were laughing at us bringing a “useless,” big pair of Fiskars loppers. Once the trip was underway, the laughing stopped and the loppers were the most borrowed piece of equipment on the trip.

A word of warning: make lopper cuts at a 90-degree angle. That leaves a squared off cut. Failure to do so leaves a sharp, angled cut that is just waiting to draw blood from a passing boater, if you get the point. Or rather, if you don’t want to get the point!


Bring some pruning saws and make your own trail.

more salt cedar photos

Not an issue at all
Fall 2010 and spring 2014. Low water and sand banks and high water and tamarisks.

The only potential problem is you have to watch carefully for openings to the trails that go up the bluffs like at Jasper and Hey Joe

watch for rivers that intersect. Most of the campsites are near junctions.

take a good river guide like Belknaps.

Should be ok
We did a 4 day paddle on the Colorado from Potash (outside Moab) to Spanish Bottom (just past the Colorado/Green confluence) in early May. We had no problem finding camps, even at higher water. Camped on an island one night, sand beach one night, rock shelf one night, and had a great camp at Spanish Bottom. At low water you should be good. I had not been to Spanish Bottom in over 20 years and it was sad to see how much the Tammies have taken over. My memory was of a huge, wide open beach at Spanish Bottom. Now it’s small openings in the Tammies with small beaches.

You can open up camping caves in the Tammies by busting branches. I’ve never brought loppers or a saw, but it’s worth bringing some work gloves.

I paddled the Green in about 1996. Tamarisk was evident near the shore in a lot of areas. There were paths through it. Just bring some tools and make a path if you need to. This introduced plant was sold as a drought tolerant landscape plant in nurseries for years. It is from the Middle East and readily invades wild lands. The Grand Canyon is full of it. It mostly occurs near the shoreline in the flood plains of rivers. It is a phreatophyte with deep roots. Once you get past the line of tamarisk near the water, you can usually get away from it.

I very recently read an article published in The Colorado Sun that stated tamarisk eradication efforts had greatly reduced the problem. Whether that was on a specific section of river or the whole corridor and tributaries I don’t remember.

Conservation groups involved in this project would have a better idea of what the 2020 situation is, certainly better than paddler reports from four years ago.

The insect used for biocontrol of the tamarisk was effective, but the state of AZ prohibited its use. Reason: A bird species had come to rely on tamarisk for habitat due to human razing of its preferred habitat, native willows. If the eradication work had included planting willows, maybe this could have been prevented. “The ankle bone’s connected to the knee bone…”

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