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Not all trees are good trees for rural producers

Debra Baker
Saltcedar and tamarisk trees can have damaging effects on soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat in pastures in southcentral and southwestern Kansas.

Landowners and managers in southwest Kansas attended a workshop and field demonstration March 19 in Syracuse that focused on the management and removal of tamarisk, also known as saltcedar.

The morning sessions at Hamilton County Fairgrounds were followed by a field site visit to the Cottonwood Flats Wildlife Area, approximately 17 miles west of Syracuse, for demonstrations on how to remove tamarisk.

“This was a great opportunity to hear from experts’ best thinking on control of tamarisk and other invasive plants,” said Bob Atchison, rural forestry program coordinator with the Kansas Forest Service.

Tamarisk was originally used in the state for windbreaks, erosion control, ornamentals and wildlife plantings. While it proved to be a hardy plant in the tough conditions of Kansas, land managers soon discovered that the tree spread quickly and is difficult to remove.

The invasive tree outcompetes and displaces native plants that benefit livestock forage and wildlife habitat. Additionally, tamarisk reduces soil moisture, groundwater and stream flows in areas where water is a precious resource.

The Kansas Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Playa Lakes Joint Venture and the Kansas Department of Agriculture are working to remove tamarisk from managed land areas.

Saltcedar and Tamarisk can have damaging effects on soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat, so control of these invasive trees in Central Kansas benefits springs, streams and wetlands.

Quail and deer habitat also have issues associated with saltcedar andtTamarisk trees.

Contact The Kansas Forest Service for more information on this topic, 1-888-740-8733.

*Contact the writer of this article at deb.baker@kaws.org.