Derived from the latin word “ripa,” meaning on a riverbank, riparian areas are the life blood of dry deserts.
If you’ve spent any time exploring the trails in Red Rock Canyon, you’ve likely crossed paths with a riparian area. These gorgeous, water rich regions appear like oases in the midst of cacti and Joshua trees.
Breathing life into an arid landscape
Riparian areas are popular destinations for bird watchers and wildlife photographers. Roughly 80 percent of the mammals, birds, and bugs that call Red Rock home rely on riparian areas as their main source of water. Some notable visitors include endangered desert tortoises, desert cottontails, and burros. Similarly, dozens of plant species less robust than cacti rely on the fertile water supply.
In the spring and fall, streams and pools of water can be found on the surface. However, during the dryer parts of the year the water pools underground, creating a valuable aquifer that breaths life into the arid landscape.
While animals certainly make the most of riparian areas, they are far from the only ones in the desert utilizing this precious resource. Residents of the Blue Diamond Village also rely on riparian areas for their water resources.
Unfortunately for everyone who relies on this water, the supply is not unlimited. In 2020 we have seen Southern Nevada’s worst drought on record. The dry conditions are being extubated by invasive tamarisk.
Tamarisk is a flowering plant native to Eurasia and Africa. It is not native to Nevada. This invasive species flourishes in riparian areas, selfishly soaking up more than its fair share of water resources. If not properly controlled, tamarisk utilizes too much water, intensifying drought conditions and leaving native plant species to wilt away.
At Save Red Rock, we are dedicated to controlling invasive tamarisk and maintaining riparian areas in Red Rock Canyon. You can join our fight to preserve and conserve resources by donating today.
Not only are we dedicated to preventing tamarisk, but we also care about keeping our deserts clean from trash. You can join us on Tuesday, December 1 at 3 pm for a Red Rock Clean up. Learn more below!