War with the Russian Olive
Progress 2013
by Bill Wolverton

Russian Olive removal
on Calf Creek Ranch

Russian Olive removal on the Calf Creek Ranch property continued in late April, 2013, with the help of a local chapter Sierra Club group from California, many of whom had helped with the work in April 2012. There were a total or 11 in the group, although two of them were only able to work for two days, for a net of 10. Gary and Mary Garland were generous in allowing the group to use their house as a base camp from which to conduct the work. All of the Russian Olive had been removed from their property in 2012 and the slash burned, leaving only some firewood to be collected, which they have indicated they want to have and will remove eventually.

The work started on the lower end of the Howland parcel on river left, which was not done in 2012 for lack of time. Work had been completed on the Howland parcel to the BLM boundary on river right in September 2012. The hand tool work on river left was completed by the volunteers by the end of the first day, after which they went upstream and started working at the downstream boundary of the Bowman parcel on river left. Chain sawing on the Howland parcel required a day and a half to complete, except for a few trees to be girdled that were deferred until later. The length of this section had been measured with a GPS at 0.075 mile. Failure of one of the return springs in the chainsaw clutch necessitated a trip back to Escalante the second afternoon to rob the clutch from another saw that is no longer serviceable. After making the repair a start was made on the chain sawing on the Bowman parcel on river left. Over the next two working days all of the Russian Olive along the banks on both sides of the river on the Bowman parcel was cut, up to the ford where the private road to the Garland and Howland parcels crosses the river. Most of the large trees were girdled, as always, except for some that were deferred until later. However, there was found to be a very large amount of Russian Olive away from the river on the river right side, and it could not be done before the end of the Sierra Club trip. Much of the hand tool work was done in this area though.

In early May, with the help of Rick Howell of Escalante also chainsawing, the remaining Russian Olive on the Bowman parcel was cut, the remaining large trees on both the Howland and Bowman parcels were girdled, and everything on river left on both the Sorenson and Scholl parcels on river left upstream from the river ford was cut. This required two more days of chainsawing, with landowner Craig Sorenson swamping for part of the afternoon of the first day and John Veranth swamping on the second day. In mid May, also with the help of Rick Howell, the remaining Russian Olive on the Sorenson and Scholl parcels was cut, in another day and a half of chainsawing without the benefit of either volunteers going ahead with hand tools or any swampers. The work was finished early the afternoon of May 17th.


Distance along river cleared of Russian Olive: approx ¼ mile.

Volunteer labor: 9 volunteers for four days each, 2 for 2 days each, one for 1 day, one for ½ day: 9×4 + 2×2 + 1×1 + 1×½ =41 ½ volunteer days (32 days with hand tools, 9 ½ days swamping)

Chainsaw days: 1 chainsaw for 4 days, 2 chainsaws for 3 ½ days = 11 chainsaw days.

Total labor: 41 ½ + 11 = 52 ½ person days.
If volunteers had not been utilized to do the hand tool work ahead of the chainsaw (8 volunteers with hand tools, two swamping), and the chainsawing had taken twice as long without them, which is likely, then the total labor would have been:

11 chainsaw days × 2 = 22 chainsaw days 9 ½ days swamping

22 + 9 ½ = 31 ½ days total.

As was done previously, the slash was only cut into ‘manageable’ size pieces and piled where ever it could be piled, with the only objective being to get it out of the way and keep cutting. Very little was lost to the river. It will be burned in late October/early November by collecting it from wherever it is piled and feeding fires a piece at a time so that the size of the fire can be completely controlled, with a minimum of fire sites required. Most of the standing dead trees that have been girdled will be cut down and burned, and large logs will be left for firewood at the request of the landowners. Several landowners and volunteers have expressed interest in helping with this.

Burning slash:

October 25–31, 2013
Bill Wolverton – 5 ½ days

Paul Plathe – 4 days
Mike McKuen – 4 days
Dan Shein – 3 ½ days
Craig Sorenson – 1 ½ days

Collecting firewood:

November 14, 2013
Bill Wolverton – 4 hours
Craig Sorensen – 3 hours

November 18, 2013
BW – 4 hours
CS – 4 hours

Bill Wolverton
May 17, 2013


© 2003–2016 Bill Wolverton