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McLaughlin Natural Reserve

RESTORATION

DFG and CalFire's Konacti Camp remove tamarisk.

DFG and CalFire's Konacti Camp remove tamarisk.

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the University of California Davis (UC Davis) are working on eradicating tamarisk (salt cedar, Tamarix sp.) and other invasive non-native plants from the upper Putah Creek watershed along the Knoxville and Eticuera Creeks and actively restoring native vegetation. Tamarisk is a highly invasive shrub/tree that spreads rapidly, alters the water table and soil nutrients, excludes native species, and provides a poor food source for native birds, insects, and rodents. Perennial pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium) and tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) are additional invasive species that this project looks to eradicate.

Efforts to restore the riparian corridor to a more diverse native habitat began as soon as DFG took ownership of the Knoxville Ranch. The first step was the removal of cattle in the riparian areas. The removal of grazing allows trees and plants to establish and grow. The next step is to eradicate the highly invasive non-native plants and trees that out-compete the natives. After the removal of the exotics, some areas will be planted with native plants, shrubs, and trees to foster their re-vegetation. Other areas less impacted by present invasive species will be left untouched and allowed to regenerate naturally. The final step is to monitor conditions, remove any re-growth of non-natives, and continue plantings of natives where appropriate.

DFG and CalFire's Konacti Camp burn cut piles of tamarisk.

DFG and CalFire's Konacti Camp burn cut piles of tamarisk.

Cutting the plants and treating the cut stems with an application of herbicide will remove the bulk of the tamarisk. The California Department of Forestry (CDF) inmate work crews will remove tamarisk and Ailanthus with chainsaws and loppers as close to the ground as possible. Immediately after the cutting of the plants DFG scientific aids will apply an herbicide treatment to the stems by painting them with a brush. Removed vegetation will be burned on-site.

Re-vegetation will consist of gathering local seed and cuttings. Vegetation to be restored may include: cottonwoods, willows, redbud, wild grapes, elderberry, wild alder, and ash.

For more information on Tamarisk or other invasive species see the Nature Conservancy’s Wildland Invasive Species page: http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/esadocs.html.