Scott Hininger recently warned of Russian olive trees becoming weeds. They are a designated weed in Wyoming. Perhaps because they are a tree most of us don’t think of them as weeds, but from what I am noticing they are slowly taking over riparian areas around Sheridan, particularly south of town.
Every year I dig out three or four new trees along the irrigation ditch that serves our subdivision. That doesn’t sound like much but over the last 15 years that would be about 50 trees blocking parts of the ditch.
These trees can grow in poor areas and have been used for windbreaks in the past.
We didn’t understand how invasive they can be in riparian areas. They displace native trees and the wildlife that use them, disrupt pastures with their dense growth and long thorns and use a lot of water. They can grow so thickly as to be hard to walk through. On a trip to Billings, notice parts of the Little Big Horn River valley that are choked with Russian olives. Or if you are traveling on the other side of the mountain, notice the infestation on the Big Horn River and the efforts made to clean them out.
Controlling them is no easy matter, because you have to deal with a tree. Still it is worth the effort and expense which won’t become less as the infestation and the environmental harm that they cause grow. I encourage you to start watching the effect of these trees and controlling them on your property. If we don’t, we could well have a continuous silver-leafed weed infestation along all the riparian areas in Sheridan County and following the Tongue and Powder rivers into Montana.
Jack Landon, Jr.