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cottonwood and willow forests have been replaced by these invaders.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
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.