Kill the Russians!

Young Russian Olive plant

Young Russian Olive plant. These invaders threaten native species and can quickly choke off entrances to side channels. Finding and pulling these little buggers is quick and easy. Photo by Bob Krumm.

So now that I have your attention, let’s be clear we’re talking about removing Russian Olives, that ubiquitous invasive species that is taking over the banks of the Bighorn and choking off our side-channels.

Until now, you probably heard about the efforts to remove existing adult shrubs, and what a laborious and nearly impossible task that is. You already know that the olives are out-competing native vegetation and threaten to permanently alter riparian habitat which affects everything from trout to the mighty cottonwoods. What you may not have realized is now is the time you can do a great deal to help and have a dramatic impact on the growth and spread of Russian Olives.

The next time you stop on the river, whether to fish, assist clients, have lunch or take a leak, look for the young Russian Olive plants a foot or two tall (see pictures). The young plants have fairly small root system and can easily be plucked from the ground with minimal effort. Discard them with a toss up on to higher ground. In minutes, you can stop the spread of 20, 30 or even 50 or more plants.

As you float, pay special attention to the entrances of side channels, and especially side channels that are dry with these lower flows. Notice how the young olives have already taken root and beginning to armor and choke off the side channel.  Take a moment to educate the folks in your boat about the issue, and encourage them to pull a few plants with you. If we all do a little bit to help, we can have a tremendous impact on these nasty invaders.

Good luck and thanks for you help!

Photo by Bob Krumm.

Photo by Bob Krumm.