Monument Stewards to begin season with tamarisk removal, native plantings

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, March 8, 2024-

With spring fast approaching, the Monument Stewards are getting ready to begin their fifth season removing weeds and planting native plants along the Monument Trail corridor in Grand Junction.

The Monument Stewards are a group of volunteers organized by the Colorado West Land Trust and Eureka! McConnell Science Museum that meets weekly to tackle stewardship projects along No Thoroughfare Wash near the Lunch Loops Trailhead.

“As you ride your bike along the Monument Trail or walk or run, the Monument Stewards over the past four years have really clamped down on the invasive (plant species) and the weeds. Often through pretty heavy work hand pulling and cutting weeds,” Colorado West Land Trust Program Manager Libby Collins said. “You can now see the wash so much better than you could before. Native vegetation is thriving in that area as we have been clearing out the weeds.”

As part of the ongoing effort to remove invasive plants and reestablish native plants in that area, the Land Trust, with the assistance of a Western Colorado Conservation Corps crew, will be removing tamarisk along the wash. The crew will be out for one week cutting and removing the invasive plant along the lower wash near the pedestrian bridge along Monument Road.

“The Conservation Corps will do the heavy lifting of cutting and removing the tamarisk,” Collins said. “Then the Monument Stewards — we’re hoping to get the Mesa County Trail Crew to join us — will be planting new plants and probably transplanting willow poles to the area, too.”

The Conservation Corps work will take place in May, but Collins said the Monument Stewards will begin its season in early April. That work will include pulling weeds and irrigating new native plants.

“The willows are really thriving along the wash,” Collins said. “The regular work of the Monument Stewards getting out there weekly, or almost weekly, is really paying off.”

Some of the native plants the Stewards will plant this year will come from a collaboration between the Land Trust, Eureka! and the City of Grand Junction. The volunteers have been collecting native seeds for the past two years, which the city’s horticulture staff have cultivated.

Collins said the partnership has been very successful and credited the city staff for their work. The volunteers help to plant the seeds, which are then raised in the city’s greenhouses until they are ready to go in the ground.

“There are over 200 plants so far,” Collins said. “We’ll be planting maybe half of those out at the Lunch Loop area. We’re going to save the other half until the next phase of the paved trail is complete.”

Lower down on No Thoroughfare Wash, below the Redlands Canal, Land Trust staff have noticed some beaver activity. Collins said they are working with the city to potentially cage the larger cottonwood trees in the area. While beavers need wood for habitat, Collins said protecting the cottonwoods is important to preserve habitat for other species as well.

“We do want to protect the cottonwoods and the cottonwood galleries that are there along No Thoroughfare Wash because there aren’t many of them,” Collins said. “We do want to protect those and that bird habitat is critical.”

Collins said they are working with the City of Grand Junction on the cottonwood caging and there may be an opportunity to include volunteers in that effort. Collins said the Land Trust is a member of the West Slope Outdoor Volunteers, along with several other local conservation organizations. Visit to find upcoming volunteer opportunities.

By Dan West

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