Along the Gila: Roach Fire and the Insidious Growth of the Salt Cedars

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The salt cedar has pretty flowers but is very detrimental to a desert area especially during a fire.

“Along the San Pedro” might be a better title for my column this week. Our hearts and minds are moving in several directions at once: towards anger and grief that the fire took place; towards love and concern for all who are affected; towards thanks and appreciation for all the people who provided, and continue to provide, help and assistance.

  The danger is not over. Salt cedar roots can smolder for days before springing back into flames. The heat of the summer continues, and all along the San Pedro and the Gila the salt cedar plants stretch on either side for mile after mile providing the fuel for future disaster.

  A hundred years ago the salt cedars were not here. The rivers flowed through natural desert area, with native trees along the banks, especially the willows which provided nesting places for birds.

  Then the salt cedar (also known as tamarisk) arrived. It was native to Russia, and was imported to stabilize soil and provide wind breaks. How did it get here? Maybe a farmer in New Mexico planted it, and the Gila carried seeds down the river banks. Maybe birds spread the seeds. However it happened, the salt cedar took root throughout Arizona and grew rapidly, its tenacious roots crowding out other plants. In addition, the invasive plant changes the nature of the soil around it, affecting the nutrient structure in a way that causes other plants to die. This provides more room for the salt cedar to grow and spread, and the cycle goes on.

  First steps have been taken to remove at least some of the salt cedar in this area. The Winkelman Natural Resources Conservation District and the Town of Kearny have been cooperating with each other, and with the State of Arizona and U.S. Government, to begin the work. A small amount of money from the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) is being matched with lots of volunteer labor and offers of equipment from ranchers, home owners, and businesses.

  It’s not just a matter of tearing up the plants. The roots go deep. The plant multiplies rapidly. Disposing of removed plants can spread the seeds. Since the plant grows mostly beside rivers, we have to take care that our work to get rid of the plant doesn’t cause other problems, such as affecting river flow and flood plains, or disturbing the environment of rare species. It would not be good to solve one problem only to create a host of others.

  But the problem remains. We have a volatile fuel lining our rivers and surrounding our towns. It will take much cooperation and lots of solid effort to develop a workable approach which removes the salt cedar and moves the river banks to their natural state of a hundred years ago. And what a change that will be!

Sam Hosler (30 Posts)


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwitterby feather

Comments are closed.

  • Additional Stories

    Update: San Manuel burglar caught, will face aggravated assault and burglary charges

    September 15th, 2017
    by

    The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office arrested Daniel Torrio for the burglary and attack of a San Manuel homeowner. On September […]


    Superior top cop and firefighter named by VFW

    September 14th, 2017
    by

    Last week, the Superior VFW Post 3584 presented the Firefighter and Police Officer of the Year awards to Firefighter Christopher […]


    Queen Valley Fire Department: Helping our neighbors

    September 14th, 2017
    by

    It’s always good to have backup. It’s especially important when faced with a fire that may be a little too […]


    Superior remains undefeated with 60-0 rout of Fort Thomas

    September 14th, 2017
    by

      The Superior football team continues to dominate its opponents.   For the third-straight week the Panthers hung a 60-spot […]


  • Additional Stories

    St. Francis Fiestas & Car Show set for this weekend

    September 14th, 2017
    by

      St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church has announced the event schedule for the 2017 Fiestas Patrias and Car Show, […]


    In Your Biz: Boyce Thompson Arboretum

    September 14th, 2017
    by

    For those that have studied the history of Superior, you will know that the discovery and investment made by Col. […]


    Miner Swimmers lose to Arizona College Prep

    September 14th, 2017
    by

      The Miner Swimmers hosted Arizona College Preparatory School on Thursday, Sept. 7.  The Girls team scores were:  Arizona College […]


    Charlie Monday

    September 14th, 2017
    by

      Charlie Monday, 87,  passed away on Aug. 27, 2017 in Tucson of natural causes. Charlie was born in Granite, […]


  • Copperarea

  • [Advertisement.]
  • [Advertisement.]
  • [Advertisement.]
  • Southeast Valley Ledger