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For Immediate Use                                                                                                Contact: Reed Tollefson, (760) 378-2531
December 12, 2011                                                                                                              

Audubon working to Extirpate Salt Cedar from South Fork Kern River

Weldon, CA

From Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary - Extirpate: to destroy completely, pull up by the root. Synonyms - annihilate, exterminate, eradicate, liquidate and obliterate.

Salt Cedar is an introduced non-native tree that dominates many major river systems in the arid southwest. On hundreds of miles of the Colorado, Gila, and Rio Grande Rivers, thousands of acres of cottonwood and willow forests have been replaced by these invaders. In many areas this is considered to be irreversible or too expensive to address and is now accepted. Our native bird diversity has diminished as a result and many species including woodpeckers, tanagers, bluebirds, warblers, flycatchers, wood ducks and others have declined in these much less productive forests.

On the South Fork Kern River, Audubon has been waging an on-going battle behind the scenes on salt cedar and other invasive weeds for years. This peaked in the three field seasons from 2002 to 2004 when weed crews removed over 18,000 salt cedar from the floodplain forest mostly on private ranches along the river above our Preserve. This ecosystem was definitely poised for an ecological catastrophe that would have developed into a much more expensive and difficult problem. This year on follow up search and destroy surveys we located just eight salt cedar on the Kern and zero on Butterbredt Canyon!

Recently a riparian ecologist visited the Preserve and expressed considerable surprise and relief that he could not locate salt cedar or a number of other invasive trees including tree of heaven, giant cane or Russian-olive. With a quizzical look on his face, he inquired why the forest looked so healthy and I told him it was due to the long standing commitment to the stewardship of the Preserve by Audubon staff, volunteers and our partners. The California Department of Fish and Game, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Bureau of Land Management, Eastern Kern Resource Conservation District, Kern Valley Resource Conservation District, The nature Conservancy and especially private landowners are among our most important partners in this long term effort and without their help we could not have achieved anywhere near our current level of success.

No doubt we need to continue to be vigilant because we continue to be challenged by other invasive weeds and salt cedar is sure to appear again. But for the time being this forest can certainly raise the eyebrow of a well-trained riparian forest ecologist as well as provide excellent habitat for a wide array of rare birds and other wildlife. Join Audubon and help to protect the South Fork Kern, one of California’s last and best river forests.

Many nursery bars on the South Fork Kern were dominated by young salt cedar prior to 2004 when our crews uprooted them with weed wrenches.



Photo on right:
Trophy Salt Cedar slain by Phil Heavin and Adolph Tetsekoua in 2002.

See our other pages on Salt Cedar and Invasive Weeds: Kern River Valley Invasive Species Information

Salt Cedar     Giant Cane, Arundo donax      Purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria     Perennial Pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium

About Audubon Kern River Preserve

The Kern River Preserve is managed by Audubon California for the preservation of one of California’s largest contiguous cottonwood-willow riparian forests and the wildlife it supports.

Audubon Kern River Preserve supporters provide financial and volunteer support for Preserve outreach, education, wildlife habitat protection & stewardship.

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