Russian olive and tamarisk (salt cedar) are aggressive, invasive trees that infest river banks, use excessive water, compete with native species, and form dense stands prone to wildfire. Removal and management of these trees is essential to maintaining the health of the rivers and land in our district.
San Juan SWCD projects have cleared over 3,000 acres of Russian olive and salt cedar in the past six years, and have chemically treated over 1,800 acres of resprouts. Through funding from NM State Forestry, US Forest Service, the State of New Mexico, and San Juan County, our projects have removed hazardous fuels for 110 private landowners, and have cleared firebreaks and improved river access for Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield, San Juan County, Jackson Lake Wildlife Management Area, Navajo Lake State Park, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Reclamation, and the Navajo Nation.
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Russian olive removal
Revegetation after removal
2012 Bosque Fire
Invasive understory removal
Russian olive removal
Russian olive removalRussian olive removal is pictured, with reference points in the lower pair of photos.
Revegetation after removalAfter removing Russian olive and salt cedar at the Hammond Diversion, District contractors seeded native grasses and planted cottonwoods and willows, as well as chemically treated resprouts so invasives didn\\\'t return.
2012 Bosque FireRussian olive and tamarisk are visible in this bosque fire from 2012. Both of these species grow densely, creating favorable conditions for fires that are hard to stop.
Invasive understory removalRemoval of Russian olive is visible here, while native cottonwoods are left standing and healthy, especially with the olives gone! Russian olive roots can grow 40 ft. deep, while cottonwood roots grow shallow and broad. This makes it difficult for cottonwoods to compete with olives for water.
Russian olive removalRussian olive has been left alone on the far bank, while on the near bank, it has been masticated and resprouts have been sprayed. In most of our removal projects, we follow up by planting native willows and cottonwood trees to help restore the riverbank ecosystem.
Tamarisk removalTamarisk mastication is pictured here.