March 2, 2018 – The Regulatory Battle to Eliminate the Salt Cedar
What is the Salt Cedar?
The Salt Cedar is a Middle Eastern plant species that was introduced in Arizona in the 1800s for erosion control. Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers the Salt Cedar an invasive species, as it consumes vast amounts of water, limits recreational use of rivers, and enhances fire threats.
Why is the Salt Cedar a problem?
In recent years, Salt Cedar growth has taken over an additional seven square miles in the West Valley of the Phoenix metropolitan area. The plant’s dense and rapid growth prevents the Gila River from flowing naturally, pushing its water out to low-lying areas of land. This type of water flow incorporates adjacent communities into the river’s floodplain, increasing their risk of flooding, and subjecting them to flood insurance regulations and requirements.
Maricopa County and local communities want to remove and replace the Salt Cedar with native trees and shrubs, which will restore the river’s natural ecosystem. Unfortunately, federal regulations citing threatened and endangered species concerns, as well as a bureaucratic federal permitting process, delay and prevent the removal of the Salt Cedar.
The imposition of these regulations on Arizona home owners and Maricopa County is yet another example of unelected federal bureaucrats making decisions best decided by state and local officials. They unnecessarily increase the cost of living and hamper economic development. Every day of delays further harms Arizona residents and increases the cost of removal to Arizona taxpayers.
What am I doing about it?
Federal agencies should not be holding these projects hostage. To alleviate some of that burden, I am a cosponsor of Representative Mark Amodei’s H.R. 1330, the Federal Land Invasive Species Control, Prevention, and Management Act. This legislation directs the federal government to work with states, localities, and stakeholders to reduce invasive species, like the Salt Cedar, on federal lands. Additionally, I will continue working with federal agencies to streamline the permitting process.
What are they saying?
“The threat of devastating fires and floods from invasive salt cedar in Maricopa County is real, and it affects people’s property as well as economic development in the region. One challenge in Maricopa County is that so much of the land covered by salt cedar is owned or regulated by federal agencies. We need these federal agencies to be prompt and engage with our local jurisdictions, which are ready and willing to implement Salt Cedar management plans as soon as they get approval.” – Steve Chucri, Chairman, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors