The Lower Salt River Restoration Project (LSRRP) was established in 2018, just one year after the Cactus Fire. Resource managers recognized that without action, the footprint of the fire would quickly return to undesirable habitat dominated by non-native plant species, such as salt cedar. In the spring of 2018 partners from Northern Arizona University, Tonto National Forest, and the National Forest Foundation received their first grant for work on the Lower Salt River and immediately began planning.
Since 2018, Phases 1 & 2 of the LSRRP have treated just under 200 acres of riparian habitat within the Cactus Fire footprint. Each field season begins in the fall with mechanical and/or chemical treatment of invasive plant species. Where herbicide treatment is required, targeted methods are applied to minimize the chemical footprint on the landscape. Following invasive plant treatment, project managers and crews plant thousands of native riparian tree species each year. In addition to this planting, managers can rely on the natural recruitment of native species by removing constant competition from invasive plants. Together these methods are increasing the abundance and diversity of native vegetation on the Lower Salt River.
Phase 3 of the LSRRP was originally planned for Fall 2020. Due to the COVID19 pandemic, this work has been postponed and will resume Fall 2021. With continued support from the local community and project funders, managers hope to expand this work across the eleven miles of the Lower Salt River located within the Tonto National Forest. On behalf of all those collaborating to make this project a reality, we would like to thank everyone involved for helping us to protect and sustain this native riparian vegetation community, one of many, critical to our Southwest waterways.