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Crews finish work on rivers' invasive plants

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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February wrapped up the third treatment season for the Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition. Three VWRC crews spent the last six months controlling invasive plants — Russian olive, tamarisk, tree of heaven and giant reed.

VWRC trained and funded two Arizona Conservation Corps crews and one veteran crew employed by a Cottonwood business. All together, the three crews treated more than 1,600 acres infested with these invasive plants along 29.4 miles of the Verde River and its tributaries.

VWRC's veteran crew focused on controlling invasive plants along the Verde River from Clarkdale to the 10th Street Bridge in Cottonwood. They started at the 10th Street Bridge at Dead Horse Ranch State Park and slowly worked their way upstream toward the Tuzigoot Bridge. Going along the Jail Trail, the crew spent a majority of its time treating tree of heaven.

A grant from the Yavapai County Rural Area Commission provided a majority of the funding for the restoration efforts, which included the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area, Dead Horse Ranch State Park and town of Clarkdale property above the Tuzigoot Bridge. The veteran crew also worked on private properties in Clarkdale.

VWRC's four-person AZCC crew focused entirely on retreating properties that had been treated during the.2013 and 2014. Most invasive species are tenacious and require several years of maintenance to fully control. This small crew also collected important data at each site that will help VWRC measure treatment effectiveness over time and adapt its methods for managing invasive plants. This crew worked mostly on Oak Creek and Verde River.

VWRC's eight-person AZCC crew focused on the 10-mile stretch of river from the Perkinsville Bridge to the Sycamore Creek/Verde River Confluence. They spent eight weeks in the backcountry working on tamarisk removal on the Prescott National Forest with support from the Verde Canyon Railroad. They also treated the Perkins Ranch and retreated property managed by Arizona Game and Fish Department near the headwaters of the Verde River. This work almost completed treatment Verde River from the headwaters to the Sycamore/Verde Confluence.

Through the program crew members learned valuable skills while toughing it out in difficult conditions. They were all trained in chain saw safety; "leave no trace" ethic; data collection; wilderness first aid; and plant identification, both native and invasive.

Throughout the season, crew members gained valuable work experiences that have spurred interest in higher education in conservation and seeking out new jobs opportunities.

"Through the season, we developed a clear, efficient strategy in each patch of invasive species, and the job became much more fluid," commented a crew member on an evaluation.

Since 2012, when work began to cooperatively manage invasive plant in the Verde Watershed, VWRC has trained more than 60 individuals in restoration practices; created seasonal jobs; removed invasive plants on more than 6,000 acres; engaged 211 private landowners to participate by improving habitat on private land; and increased awareness about invasive plants throughout the watershed.

Copyright 2015 The Camp Verde Journal, Camp Verde, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: April 8, 2015

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