From The Durango Herald (Mia Rupani):
Mountain Studies Institute and Southwest Conservation Corps continue to wage war against the Russian olive, an invasive species that chokes out native trees and degrades the quality of the watershed.
Last year, MSI was awarded a $195,000 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and an additional $52,000 from Colorado Parks and Wildlife for a three-year Russian olive-removal project.
Removal efforts continued Saturday morning at Animas Valley Elementary and Christ the King Lutheran Church with two saw crews from SCC, and help from Durango Daybreak Rotary Club.
MSI’s Amanda Kuenzi said the project specifically targets Russian olive trees on private land…
Originally introduced for ornamental landscaping, the plants are native to East Asia and Russia, and consume nearly 75 gallons of water per day.
They are considered a “List B noxious weed,” which requires local governments to manage their spread under Colorado state law…
“Russian olive reduce wildlife habitat, interfere with nutrient cycling and outcompete native species,” Kuenzi said. “The wetlands have been deteriorating in the West because of irrigation practices and water storage. We have to protect these important ecosystems.”
She said crews will be working on removal efforts through mid-November with about 60 private landowners throughout the Animas River Valley.
On Saturday, the Rotary Club collected wood from the removal effort for its firewood-distribution project.