by Ben Kowalewski, Habitat Restoration Coordinator
The Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition (commonly referred to as VWRC – pronounced “vee-work”) is a collaborative effort uniting private landowners, organizations, and agencies with a common interest in the health of the Verde River Watershed. Together, VWRC Partners are working to control one of the biggest current threats to the Verde River – invasive plants, along with a suite of other projects.
In December 2018, Friends of the Verde River, along with our Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition Partners from the Tonto and Coconino National Forest, Arizona Conservation Corps and a volunteer were able to set off downstream for more fountain grass removal. We were expecting good weather, good flow and were motivated to get as much work done as we could.
The trip in November was a success but we knew for this trip, we had to get as much work done as we could treating fountain grass, knowing we were not going to be making another trip this year. We knew this trip would be the most technical and we would be treating fountain grass in difficult to reach places. It loves to grow in open, rocky flood plains but also straight up a cliff or on high, exposed hillsides. The remoteness of the affected areas along with the difficulty of the terrain would make these treatments very difficult but we were ready for the challenge. We had recruited some awesome volunteers from the public and Arizona Conservation Corps and all of us were excited for the adventure.
The weather turned out to be pretty good for a December trip, it was only really cold for a few nights. We were able to treat three sites and a few thousand plants in the Lower Verde and somehow none of the boaters went into the river.
We have completed our fountain grass removal for now, the Forest Service will be keeping an eye on it and with some luck, we will be able to return for retreatment to stop the spread of this invasive grass.