Watering at Granite Camp Restoration Site on Your River Trip

Grand Canyon National Park implemented the Granite Camp Pilot Stewardship Project during the summer of 2012 with uncertainty about the potential for success and how the greater river community would perceive and become involved in the project. Granite Camp is located on river left at 93.9 Mile at the top of Granite Rapid.

During the first year, over 100 volunteers on NPS, commercial and self-guided river and backpacking trips removed tamarisk trees, planted native plants and/or spent an hour watering the plants in the blazing hot sun. Once again, the river community has demonstrated its incredible passion for the canyon. Grand Canyon National Park thanks everyone who participated in the project and contributed to its success; it would not have been possible without the support of the entire community. Over 20 self-guided river trips stopped and watered the site this summer!

With the help of numerous volunteers, the park planted a total of 662 native plants in the camp this year (123 trees, 244 shrubs, and 295 grasses). There were some challenges- the fluctuating water levels washed away some of the grasses, sedges and coyote willow and only half of the Goodding’s willow and cottonwood pole plantings survived.

According Grand Canyon National Park plant biologist Melissa McMaster, this is a pilot project, and the park has learned many lessons and had some great successes! McMaster noted “We had very high survival for all of the other native plant species: the datura are poised to take over the site and the mesquite grew almost an inch a week during the summer. The Goodding’s willow and cottonwoods that were planted near the river camp that did not survive the summer will be replaced in November 2013 with the goal of continuing to create shade and habitat on the upper end of the camp.”

Biologists plan to keep watering for one more year to get the plants fully established, and they need to track the number of times the site gets watered so they can use the data to develop plans for future restoration projects. This year, there will be an ammo can on site (next to the sign) and when river runners water, they can just write their names down in the notebook; no more trying to remember to send an email after a trip.

This past summer it took about an hour for a full river trip to water the entire site and the park anticipates about the same, maybe a little less, this coming year. “It is a great way to engage and inspire your trip!” says McMaster.

If you are interested in watering on your trip, email melissa_mcmaster@nps.gov and she will provide you with instructions, a map and gratitude. You may also reach her by phone at 928-638-7465.

McMaster would like to thank all who participated in the project this year and she looks forward to working with even more self-guided river runners in the future!

RRFW would like to thank Melissa McMaster for assistance with this Riverwire.