McSally Teams Up with Buckeye Mayor to Tackle Invasive Salt Cedar Trees
U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) today partnered with Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck to discuss solutions for restoring Western river ecosystems and removing invasive species like the salt cedar trees negatively impacting Arizona’s Colorado, Verde, Salt, and Gila Rivers.
McSally, chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee, addressed the devastation that non-native species inflict on Western ecosystems, including salt cedar trees, quagga mussels, and others.
“Invasive species cost billions of dollars in direct costs and economic impact each year,” McSally said. “These invaders can be devastating, and the impacts to our water resources range from loss of supply to expensive infrastructure damage. In Arizona, our desert rivers like the Verde, Salt, and Gila have been hit particularly hard. In their healthy state, these landscapes should have a handful of native trees like willows, cottonwoods, or mesquite. But right now these riverbeds are choked with up to 4,000 salt cedars per acre. This not only puts incredible strain on water supply, it also causes serious flooding and fire hazards.”
“The City of Buckeye is unfortunately more familiar with these challenges than anywhere, so I am grateful to have the perspective of Mayor Jackie Meck on the panel today. He has been a leader in bringing stakeholders together to tackle the problem of invasive salt cedars, getting buy-in and support from other municipal leaders as well as private industry, local, county, state, and federal partners.”
Mayor Meck spoke about the significant amount of water that will be conserved once the salt cedars are removed, and encouraged the senators to support the Drought Relief Through Innovative Projects (DRIP) Act.
“Each Salt Cedar tree consumes 200 to 300 gallons of water a day,” Meck said. “Eradicating Salt Cedars in the 15,000 acres that we are concerned with creates a water resource in the desert with the potential to save 50,000 acre-feet of water annually. That is enough water for 200,000 homes or 600,000 people.”
McSally is a cosponsor of the bipartisan DRIP Act with Senator Sinema that would establish a competitive grant program to remove and replace non-native plants, like the salt cedar, and ensure state and local government has additional resources to address this problem.