Date: 9/15/20 5:07 pm
From: Laura Gorman <lazgorman...>
Subject: [cobirds] Re: Russian olive removal
Thank you for this overview! I always wondered how to balance the positive
value for birds with the impetus to eradicate. I sure see a lot of birds
using the R-os here inCanon City. Maybe thinning is the best or most
realistic approach.
Laura Gorman

On Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at 10:33:29 AM UTC-6 Dave Leatherman wrote:

> The Russian-olive removal at Crow Valley Campground was done at the behest
> of the US Forest Service who is in charge of the area. These days the USFS
> does almost all on-the-ground work, except firefighting, through
> contractors. I believe the removal of the olives at Crow Valley Campground
> was performed by some locals out of Briggsdale. My guess as to how this
> all went down is that there was a pot of money in a veg management account
> that would have to be returned if not spent by September 30 (the end of the
> federal fiscal year), somebody in Greeley or Washington knew about, or
> ascribed to, the paradigm that R-o is evil, also knew that giving a
> contract to the two guys with a dog, chainsaw, magnetic sign and pick-up
> would give somebody brownie points for "hiring local", and it was done
> deal. As far as I can tell, it was a quick and dirty operation with no
> removal of the cut wood, no treatment of the stumps, no replacement
> planting of "better" species, no interpretive material on-site or
> explanation given to the Campground Host (in case he was asked why it was
> done). If somebody knows a different story about how this all happened, I
> am open to correction.
>
> As stated, the paradigm amongst most CO natural resource agencies, be they
> federal, state, county or city, is that Russian-olive is evil and deserves
> eradication. This is a fairly new school of thought. Following the Dust
> Bowl, R-o was planted widely promoted and planted as a helpful remedy on
> the Great Plains. The federal Soil Conservation Service (now the NRCS) was
> its biggest promoter. R-o grows well in harsh places and we all know the
> world is getting harsher by the minute. The Colorado State Forest Service
> I used to work for has the last government tree nursery standing in CO and
> grows/sells approximately 2 million seedlings of all types a year. They
> only quit offering R-o in the 1990's, mostly because it was PC to do so.
> We all know the tree is a mixed bag, and considering only the issue of
> attracting birds, it is decidedly a positive. I have extolled the positive
> aspects of this tree for birds for many years. These efforts started out
> not so much as promotion of the tree but as an effort to "stand up" for it
> a bit, and balance the rhetoric. The knocks against it are: 1) it has
> potential to take over riparian areas to the exclusion of native, better
> trees like willow and cottonwood, and 2) it doesn't host very many insects,
> and, thus, doesn't support a very robust set of nesting birds. The fear of
> riparian area take-over has been erroneously extended to upland sites
> (which Crow Valley essentially is since it rarely experiences creek bed
> flow any more). I have only seen the total takeover and stagnation of
> riparian areas in a limited number of places in CO, mostly along the
> Arkansas e of Pueblo. In my mind, tamarisk (aka "salt-cedar") is way worse.
>
> The primary insect R-o does have, an aphid (*Capitophorus elaeagni*)*,*
> is very attractive to birds. The fruits are very attractive to many birds
> including warblers, woodpeckers, flycatchers, thrushes, waxwings, mimic
> thrushes, finches, sparrows and many others including even upland gamebirds
> and gulls. Wood ducks love them. When discovered, the 1st or 2nd State
> Record Brown-crested Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Flycatcher and
> Tropical Kingbird were in or near Russian-olives, no doubt using fruits to
> sustain their wayward adventures. Hey, Duane, any chance the
> Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher was doing the same? Thickets are used by
> certain marquis birds like cardinals and cuckoos as nest sites. Owls like
> long-ears roost/nest in R-o thickets, and I have even seen a pygmy-owl at
> low elevation in winter in a R-o thicket.
>
> I am not sure what birders should do but I think the approach SeEtta
> mentions of at least injecting some balance into veg management planning
> early-on is good. The resource managers, for the most part, have not heard
> our point of view that the tree could be good, and they need to hear it as
> something to weigh when considering the final plan. My problems with
> *every* R-o "eradication" project I've witnessed are:
>
> - Major assault on peace and quiet
> - Never get them all, miss many small trees
> - Never enough $ to plant, establish and maintain "better" species
> - Never account for sprouting that will have the site right back where
> it was in 10-20 years
> - Never account for recruitment by bird droppings and seeds floating
> in on moving water
> - In net, just dumb these areas down as a bird habitat and rec
> experience for 10 years minimum
>
> Dave Leatherman
> Fort Collins
>

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