Many wetlands and streams are present in the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal lands (UMUTL) are heavily impacted by agriculture, grazing, noxious weeds, and development for homes, gravel and oil & gas extractions. In an arid environment, the wetland and riparian ecosystems are an important and rare resource, and their importance for fish and wildlife, cultural and traditional practice and life style, and recreation cannot be over emphasized.

The primary threat to water and the health of riparian and wetland ecosystem on the UMUTL is a saltcedar (Tamarix ramossisma) infestation. The total infestation estimate is 2,000 acres; virtually every riparian corridor and drainage has been invaded, dramatically affecting water quantity and quality. Saltcedar is oblivious to high alkaline salt in soil and water and freely transevaporate the water, leaving high concentration of salt in leaves. As leaf litter accumulates under and around the tree, so does the alkaline salt, killing salt-sensitive plants and impeding future colonization of other plants, including many native species. Eventually, saltcedar takes over, and nothing else will grow.

Native plants associated with riparian and wetland ecosystems have been gathered and utilized by the Ute people as food, shelter, clothing, ceremony, medicine, tools, baskets, dye, and fuel. This way of life is practiced today, and protecting and conserving the habitats for these plants support the traditional practices and culture of the Ute People.