• Spires of Cedar Mesa sandstone in Chesler Park (Needles District)

    Canyonlands

    National Park Utah

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  • Some unpaved roads are closed

    Recent rains have caused extensive damage to some roads in the Needles District and some of the roads into the Maze District. More »

  • Safety in Bear Country

    Black bears have been seen in the Needles, Maze, and along the Colorado River. Be alert and store food and garbage properly: in hard-sided, latched containers (or your vehicle) when not being prepared or consumed. More »

  • New backcountry requirements in effect

    Hard-sided bear containers are required for backpackers in parts of the Needles District. More »

Tamarisk

photo: Horseshoe Canyon tamarisk control area
Horseshoe Canyon tamarisk control area
NPS Photo by Neal Herbert
 

Of the non-native plant species in Canyonlands, tamarisk is often seen as the most troublesome. This water-loving, Mediterranean plant arrived in North America in the 1800's. It was used initially as an ornamental shrub, and was later planted by the Department of Agriculture to slow erosion along the banks of the Colorado River in Arizona. Spreading upriver at roughly 12 miles per year, tamarisk is now established on all of the Colorado’s tributaries.

Once established, dense tamarisk stands increase fire frequency, lower plant and animal diversity, and significantly alter stream hydrology. Tamarisk consumes a great deal of water, and rarely provides food and shelter necessary for the survival of wildlife. Mature cottonwood communities are declining because shading inhibits the growth of their seedlings.

Horseshoe Canyon in Canyonlands is one of a several sites where the National Park Service has made an effort to control tamarisk. Thus far, the effects are noticeable. Since control began, cottonwood seedlings have become more prevalent and signs indicate that the water table in the canyon has risen.

Similar control experiments have been established in nearby areas, mostly in small, tributary canyons off the Colorado River.

Did You Know?

Pinyon Pine

Pinyon pines do not produce pine nuts every year. These delicious nuts can only be harvested every three to seven years. This irregular schedule prevents animals from adapting to an abundance of pine nuts and guarantees that at least some nuts will become new pine trees instead of a quick meal. More...