War with the Russian Olive
Progress Statistics 2012
by Bill Wolverton

Russian Olive progress statistics
Escalante River in Glen Canyon NRA
2007 – 2012

Chain saw crews: Two Utah Conservation Corps.
Volunteers: Two Wilderness Volunteers trips, one Utah Backcountry Volunteers trip.
Progress: 3.7 miles.

Chain saw crews: One UCC.
Volunteers: two WV trips, two UBV trips, one University of Wisconsin group, one Sierra Club group for only three days.
Progress: 1.5 miles.

Chain saw crews: One UCC, three Coconino Rural Environment Corps. Only year with four chain saw crews, all different, and some exceptionally dense, hard slow going was encountered in the Fence Canyon-Choprock area, plus a large amount of old Tamarisk was cut in the entrance to Choprock Canyon, in addition to the Russian Olive. That required about a day and a half.
Volunteers: Two WV trips.
Progress: 2.6 miles.

Chain saw crews: Two CREC.
Volunteers: Two WV trips.
Progress: 1.2 miles.

Chain saw crews: Three CREC. (Same crew, 2 trips in fall)
Volunteers: One Sierra Club trip, two WV trips.
Progress: 2 miles of the river plus two short side canyons, each about ¼ mile and light density.

Average annual progress, 2007 – 2011: 2.16 miles/year for 10.8 miles. It may not be fair to include 2007 in this average, since exceptionally good progress was made with only two chain saw crews, suggesting that the Russian Olive was not nearly as dense as it got to be later. If 2007 is not included then the average annual progress from 2008 through 2011 is 1.775 miles/year for 7.1 miles

Prior to 2007, below 25 Mile Wash, the Russian Olive was not nearly as dense as it got to be above 25 Mile, and was done mostly with volunteers with hand tools and only a little chainsaw support. Annual progress averaged just over 4 ½ miles for a total of 32 miles.

2012, Under NPS direction, working by BLM cutting guide:
Chain saw crews: One CREC crew for four trips. (Only time one crew has worked for four trips in GLCA)
Volunteers: None (They were utilized on the private land of the Calf Creek Ranch instead of in Glen Canyon.)
Progress: One half mile (based on personal observation on 10/16/12, last day the crew worked)

Minimum annual progress prior to 2012: 1.2 miles in 2010 with two chain saw crews & two volunteer trips.

Predicted rate of progress under BLM cutting guide, based on observation of BLM work below Death Hollow in 2011: ½ mile to 1 mile/year (email to Chris Hughes, Chief of Resource Management at Glen Canyon, 5/13/12)

Difference in Russian Olive density between 2011 and 2012: none noticeable.

Russian Olive remaining in GLCA at end of 2012 work season:
Escalante River: One more mile to reach Harris Wash, then 6.85 miles to BLM-GSENM boundary, total of 7.85 miles
Harris Wash: approx 4.75 miles
Total: 12.6 miles

Time required to finish in GLCA at 2007-2011 rate of progress: 6 years. (7 years if 2007 is not included in average)
Time required to finish in GLCA at 2012 rate of progress: 25 years

Time it took for Russian Olive to nearly overwhelm much of the Escalante River – approximately 19 years
(1991-2010, based on photo documentation in several locations.

In order not to clutter this up with excessive detail I have not included a few trips I did working alone or a couple of occasions with a small handful of individual volunteers.

The chain saw crews were typically 8 people for an 8 day trip, with six working days and two days spent hiking in and back out. There were usually four sawyers and four swampers. I was also chain sawing on these trips. BLM crews are believed to be comparable in size and work time per trip.

The volunteer groups ranged from 6 to 12 people for a 7 day trip, with four working days, two days to hike in and back out, and a day off in the middle. They only worked with hand tools while I did the chain sawing.  

Recent BLM progress observed:
Below Death Hollow, 2011: One chain saw crew for four trips, ¼ mile.
Continuing below Death Hollow in 2012, ¼ mile. Number of chain saw crew trips not known, probably four.

Above Sand Creek, 2012: One chain saw crew for five trips, ¼ mile. Work was continuing at time of observation, 10/22/12.

(Subject to confirmation or correction by BLM)

Bill Wolverton
November 15, 2012


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