Russian Olive Removal Along the North Fork of the Gunnison

November 11th, 2014
Have you noticed anything missing from the North Fork of the Gunnison River lately?...
With funding from the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s Invasive Phreatophyte Control Program, the Delta Conservation District has actively been removing invasive Russian olive from the banks of the North Fork of the Gunnison. With leadership from DCD board member Ralph D’Alessandro, Western Colorado Conservation Corps (WCCC) crews and private contractors have completed initial treatment on approximately 1200 acres, with resprout treatment occurring on 700 acres to date. 
Given the patchwork of land ownership along the river corridor from Paonia to Hotchkiss, Ralph has gotten to know, and work with, a number of property owners. Among them is Alverda Fender, who owns a 25-acre parcel of land adjacent to the North Fork. A native of Aspen, Ms. Fender spent much of life in the Carbondale area before moving to the North Fork Valley in 1998. Prior to the work completed by the DCD a large portion of her property had been taken over by Russian olive, inhibiting grazing access, cattle and wildlife movement, and impeding views of the river. After removal of the Russian olive, which was completed with the use of the WCCC hydromulcher, Ms. Fender said that she can’t believe the difference in how her property looks. Access and forage for cattle and wildlife has improved immensely, as evidenced by the seven large bull elk observed by Ms. Fender “going on a mission somewhere”. 
While initial treatments have been completed, re-sprout treatments have required vigilance. Three retreatments have occurred on the property since initial removal, and Ms. Fender is always on the lookout for seedlings sprouting on her well-manicured lawn. Fortunately, Ms. Fender has found an ally in Ralph, a man with an uncanny ability to spot (and destroy) small Russian olive seedlings among other shrubs and tall grasses. 
For more information on the Russian olive removal work occurring along the North Fork of the Gunnison, please contact Ralph D’Alessandro at 970-314-5355.

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