Invasive plants such as tamarisk and Russian olive are among the greatest stressors to rivers throughout the Colorado River basin.
These rapid-growing species crowd out native plants and degrade river systems by channelizing river banks, impairing natural river function and reducing the quality of habitat for wildlife and pollinators. They decrease biodiversity and sharply curtail our access to scenic landscapes.
Many of the communities that rely on these rivers suffer economic losses due to the impacts these plants have on agricultural production and ranching and recreation.
But thanks to hundreds of people, who have been working for the past decade to restore riparian landscapes, healthy rivers are making a comeback. The healthiest rivers are those where invasive plants are actively controlled and water is still relatively free flowing.
Organizations like RiversEdge West are on the front lines of the battle for the future of our rivers. Their Riverside Stories series captures the human spirit of riparian restoration through the voices of the people who are driving environmental recovery.
Meet some of the people helping restore rivers and protect the economy and environment in their communities. Click on their names to see their stories:
BILL BRANDAU, Gila River, Arizona
“I think it’s important to our country that we have healthy rivers. If we have healthy rivers, we have healthy communities and we have healthy families.” - Bill Brandau
EMILY KASYON, Dolores River, Colorado
“The rivers running through the West are the lifeblood of the region and I feel good about working to make these systems healthy for people, communities and wildlife. Years of hard work, even though progress is slow, truly makes a difference.” – Emily Kasyon
NATHAN WAGGONER, ESCALANTE RIVER, UTAH
“As we restore these watersheds, we get closer and closer to that ideal wilderness, closer to that fantastic wild place that everyone wants to see out here in the desert.” – Nathan Waggoner
CHIP NORTON, VERDE RIVER, ARIZONA
“I feel a sense of wonder when I’m on moving water. It’s magical: the sound, the smell, the touch. When you overlay that with the abundance of wildlife concentrated around desert rivers and streams, it’s heaven on earth.” - Chip Norton