SMP Nuts and Bolts

Assess Conditions and Identify Risks

Invasive species are plants, animals or other organisms that are non-native to a given ecosystem and whose introduction causes economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. Invasive aquatic and riparian species like northern pike, smallmouth bass, quagga mussels, tamarisk or Russian olive in Colorado streams and rivers presents management challenges to landowners, conservation groups, resource agencies, and other stakeholders. The dense growth patterns of invasive plants displace native plant species along rivers and streams, reducing plant and wildlife diversity, blocking river access for recreation and agriculture, channelizing waterways, and increasing the frequency and severity of wildfires. Aquatic fish species classified as pests regularly outcompete native species and sport fish alike, changing recreational angling opportunities.

Russian Olive

Smallmouth Bass

SMPs can assess the extent of invasive species in the river or riparian corridor by using existing information or conducting assessments of the riparian corridor.

Data Types


Assessments of the presence/absence/extent of invasive species


Time series species extent comparisons


Vegetation success modeling

Potential Data Sources

The 2009 Colorado River Basin Tamarisk and Russian Olive Assessment houses comprehensive databases and maps characterizing tamarisk and Russian olive infestations throughout the entire Colorado River Basin.

Colorado Dept. of Agriculture’s Noxious Weed Program has data and mapping resources for invasive plant species in Colorado counties

LandFire Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools

Interviews with local land owners


Rio Grande, Conejos River, and Saguache Creek Stream Management Plans

Using a contractor, this SMP conducted a site-level riparian vegetation assessment, with sites distributed across the priority streams. In addition, remote sensing was used to assess a wider landscape. Both assessments looked at the presence/absence of invasive vegetation, among many other variables.

View on SMP Map


  1. The June/July 2011 issue of the CSU Water Center’s newsletter focuses on invasive species in Colorado.
  2. RiversEdge West supports a number of data gathering, riparian restoration projects and partnerships across Colorado
  3. Trout Unlimited implements numerous projects to develop habitat for native species, as well as isolate them from non-native competitors.
  4. National Invasive Species Council

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