County Removes 25 Acres Of Invasive Salt Cedar Trees In Gila River

By  Casey Kuhn
Published: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 - 3:53pm
(Photo by Will Stone - KJZZ)
A freeway bridge in Buckeye faces the threat of a major wildfire due to unchecked growth of salt cedars in the Gila River.

Salt cedar is an invasive species of tree that has created flooding problems along the Gila River. The county is working on a new project to manage the local plants.

This is the third type of pilot project Maricopa County Flood Control District is using to control the dense trees that create fire and flood hazards.

The county removed 25 acres of salt cedar near State Route 85 in Buckeye last month.

Flood Control Planning Manager Doug Williams said the new vegetation will be native plants.

“When that river does get a large flow, it scours out most of the vegetation," Williams said. "These flows clean the salt cedar out but then the salt cedar comes back quicker and outcompetes the native willows and cottonwood trees.”

The project was partially funded by a Gila Indian River Community gaming grant. The county will replace the salt cedar with more than 2,000 native plants.

Williams said this pilot program is one of several meant to look at the best way to truly take out salt cedar.

“As a result of an increase in the salt cedar in the past fifteen years, we’ve had to increase the floodplain in that area," he said. "That’s kind of a hardship on the residents, so we are including things about vegetation management, trying to find some of the best management practices in dealing with the salt cedar.”

Around 500 cottonwoods and willows are being planted this month.

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