News & Links

2018 ERWP Newsletter – Released April 2018

Citizen Science App Available Now!

Anyone with the app can notify the Partnership of an invasive plant sighting with photos and coordinates!

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Walton Family Foundation’s Water in the West Initiative – blog posts highlighting Sue Fearon, ERWP’s Private Lands Program Coordinator, and Stephanie Minnaert, ERWP’s Public Lands Program Coordinator, former employees of ERWP and work performed along the Escalante.

The Three F’s of a Successful Watershed Partnership by Sue Fearon; blog post-Utah State University’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Program.


The Tamarisk Coalition, through Walton Family Foundation funding, brings us the Riverside Stories series – vignettes highlighting the personal stories of those committed to healthy rivers and community. Click on photo to read their stories:


To read all 14  Riverside Stories, go to

April 2017 – Colorado State University students develop Collaborative Initiative Analysis on the Escalante River Watershed Partnership

Donna Fontes, Elizabeth Aldenderfer and Marco Bueno interviewed and researched long-standing partners within the partnership and developed a Collaborative Initiative Situation Assessment and Case Study for ERWP. Click here to read the full assessment.


ERWP Recognized by The Nature Conservancy in Utah

Noel Poe, GSEP (middle) and Linda Whitham, TNC (right) receive award for ERWP

Noel Poe, GSEP and Linda Whitham, TNC receive award for ERWP

The Escalante River Watershed Partnership (ERWP) recently received The Nature Conservancy in Utah’s 2015 Conservation Partnership Award – the Chapter’s highest honor. This award is presented annually at the Conservancy’s Annual Meeting of the Board to the conservation leader or organization that has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the Conservancy’s mission by helping achieve tangible, lasting conservation results and furthering the cause of conservation in Utah.

ERWP was nominated for its outstanding work restoring critical habitat and building a model for youth engagement and community-based conservation in the Escalante watershed. Over the past six years, ERWP has engaged over 400 AmeriCorps and Youth Corps members and scores of volunteers to remove invasive Russian olive along 70 miles of the river corridor, an area totaling over 5,000 acres!

On hand to receive this prestigious award were Noel Poe, Executive Director of Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, and Linda Whitham, Central Canyonlands Program Manager for the Conservancy in Utah.

ERWP is a collaborative partnership comprised of federal and state agencies, NGO’s and local partners with a shared vision of watershed restoration. According to Noel Poe, “This acknowledgment is especially rewarding for the partnership as we begin our 7th year and continued efforts to restore and maintain the natural ecological conditions of the Escalante River and its watershed and involve local communities in promoting and implementing sustainable land and water our practices”.

Over the past few years these partners have worked together to achieve several restoration goals including: launching a Citizen Science initiative to monitor water quality and other water issues; restoring over 50 miles of native fish habitat; conducting research on Russian olive invasion; establishing a network of long-term monitoring sites; and surveying springs and seeps throughout the watershed.

Escalante Canyon Art Festival and the ERWP

Every year the town of Escalante holds the Escalante Canyons Art Festival. Artists from all over the country gather to either display their art or to be part of the Plein Air contest. The ERWP likes to take part in these types of town events. This 2015, the ERWP hosted 4 artists on a backcountry trip. This was to give the artist the opportunity to not only get out and see the beauty of the canyons but also to see first hand the restoration work being done by the partnership. All their gear and art supplies were packed out on horseback to a backcountry camp located near a Canyon Country Youth Corps crew. The Artist was able to see first hand the work that these youth were capable of. The Artist took this time to paint beautiful pictures depicting the restoration being done. After the overnight, the artist was kind enough to donate the prints to the ERWP and they had the opportunity to display and sell their artwork at the ERWP booth during the festival. It was a great success. We look forward to being able to be part of the Escalante Canyons Art Festival again this 2016.

Sand Creek Willows_Nori ThorneEscalante River Watershed Partnership, ERWP, Escalante Canyons Art FestivalResupplying the Crew_sm_NT

Our Partners At the Tamarisk Coalition

This article was written in the December 2015 Tamarisk Coalition Newsletter. We are happy to see the success of these lil’ beetles!

New Tamarisk Beetle Map ReleasedTamarisk Beetle Map

Tamarisk beetle distribution continues to ebb and flow across the North American continent. In 2015 there was continued expansion along the Middle Rio Grande as southern populations moved north into the Elephant Buttes Reservoir area near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Anecdotal data suggest that this movement may have been aided by the interstate corridor and beetles potentially “hitch-hiking” on vehicles.  There was also increased beetle activity and tamarisk defoliation observed this year along the Little Colorado River near Holbrook, Arizona, as well as a similar pattern seen along the Rio San Jose west of Albuquerque.

In most other parts of the country where we have seen heavy defoliation in the past, the beetle populations in 2015 were sparse to non-existent. Populations in west Texas, the Pecos River drainage in New Mexico, the Colorado River in Utah and Colorado, and the Arkansas River in Colorado had relatively low numbers of beetles present, while populations across the plains in north Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas seem to have virtually disappeared. This pattern was also found in northern Chihuahua state in Mexico where previous southward expansion halted and very few beetles were found. Populations in northern Utah, Idaho, and Oregon have remained fairly constant but have not really expanded, as have populations in northern Montana (for which TC just received data this year but was established in the mid-2000s).

Monitoring is proving to be more and more important as the beetle has not been present in the system for very long and the dynamics of population movement and stability are not yet understood. To become involved in helping to track tamarisk beetle spread and aiding in data collection for the largest ongoing ecological experiment in North America, please visit our website or contact Ben Bloodworth directly at

The production of the Annual Tamarisk Beetle Distribution Map is generously funded by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

ERWP Featured in Two Articles!

This year, John R. Spence (National Park Service) and Linda Whitham (The Nature Conservancy)  were untitled1authors featured in an article for the book, Colorado Plateau VI. Science and Management at the Landscape Scale. Their article is titled “The Escalante River Watershed Partnership”. Pp 339-352.  The chapter focuses on subjects like The Escalante River Watershed Partnership-A New Collaboration, Goals and Objectives of the Partnership, Woody Invasive Control Plan and The Future of the Escalante River Watershed Partnership. We are very happy to have such knowledgeable partners who can help to get our name out there and share the project with interested parties.

The ERWP 2015 season of Russian olive removal was also featured in The Wayne & Garfield County Insider Newspaper on Sept. 3rd. It talked about the project and training specs and the fact that the chainsaw training cut site was the New Escalante Irrigation Company property. Just one of the ways that the ERWP is giving back to the town of Escalante.

ERWP Lecture- Working Across Boundaries on Restoration,  Escalante Interagency Visitor’s Center – 4/18/2015 

The Escalante River is a ribbon of green in an otherwise arid landscape – this oasis is being threatened by invasive plant and animal species. Non-native trees, such as Russian olive and tamarisk compete with native vegetation, choke water flows and reduce wildlife habitats. To address the myriad challenges invasive species have created along the river, the community-based Escalante River Watershed Partnership (ERWP) was formed in 2009 to protect and maintain a healthy river and watershed for future generations, and coordinate restoration efforts across boundaries. Come learn more about the Escalante Watershed Restoration Project.

2nd Annual Cross Watershed Network (XWN) Peer-to-Peer Sharing Workshop

On October 15 -16, 2014, approximately sixty-five people attended the 2nd Annual Cross Watershed Network (XWN) Peer-to-Peer Sharing Workshop in Escalante, UT. Billed as “A capacity-building workshop for practitioners from watersheds across the arid West to connect with and learn from each other”, the XWN Workshop covered a variety of topics in small-group breakout sessions, classroom settings, and field trips.

2nd Annual Cross Watershed Network (XWN) Peer-to-Peer Sharing Workshop

2nd Annual Cross Watershed Network (XWN) Peer-to-Peer Sharing Workshop

The XWN workshop provided a great opportunity to listen to experts, share information, and participate in relevant discussions with colleagues, new and old, and to take away from the experience new conservation tools to apply to our watershed restoration work. It was rewarding, from the ERWP perspective, to successfully host a workshop of this magnitude and to be able to showcase some of our on-the-ground restoration work with fellow practitioners. The 2014 Watershed Network (XWN) Peer-to-Peer Sharing Workshop was hosted by Escalante River Watershed Partnership, Walton Family Foundation, Terra Foundation, The Nature Conservancy (Utah Chapter), Environmental Dispute Resolution Program, (the University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law), ESRI Press, and the Utah Conservation Corps.

Notes from the Field- Oct 2014

“Corp work can be a lot of things, intense is one of those things. Picture this, I’m in the river with a chainsaw.Kurtz1 My fingers are wrapped around the pull cord and as I prepare to swing my elbow back, everything goes white as a lightning flash bangs the whole crew. We began our retreat back to camp in between lightning flashes. Everything is wet, a raindrop slides down my chin as a smile breaks across my face. I felt so alive. Working hard every day with the people who become a sort of family to you and experience the thrills and funnies of the job is the stuff good stories are made of. We are all having this grand personal adventure alongside each other on a project where on an even grander scale we all remain anonymous.

We do it with purpose, we do it for the thrill, we are the Boulder Creek Crew.”
– Photo credit: Bradley Kurtz

Nature Conservancy Magazine: “Cutting a Clear Path”.

Escalante River Utah Google MapsA coalition of unlikely collaborators is reviving the Escalante River.

By Julian Smith. Photographs by Chris Crisman.