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Non-native tree species being reduced along Price River, other county areas

Eagle scouts Brock Morley (left) and Travis Richardson get two plants ready for planting on the Price river on Oct. 10. The project is a reclamation being done by the boy scouts and the Utah division of Forestry.

Sun Advocate reporter

Russian olive trees are a common sight across the western United States. Their presence is considered unfortunate, because they are also classified as a noxious weed. These trees have a tendency to crowd out native vegetation, which can damage local ecology and kill off native species. Because of this situation, local Eagle Scouts and the Utah Division of Forestry have undertaken an effort to remove the trees and replant local vegetation along 16 acres of the Price River.

While the effort has only been underway for a short time, the results are noticeable to anyone who has visited the banks of the river around Price. The olive trees are gone. In their place are thousands of diverse local plants that were donated by Native Western Plants of Price.

Utah Partners for Conservation and Development (UPCD) provided a grant that supplied much of the project's funding. The grant was awarded to Alison McCluskey, from the Utah Division of Forestry, who is also the project supervisor.

"What we're trying to do is take out all of the non- native species and then replant some of the local ones to help the area become more diverse," said Ms. McCluskey.

The Eagle Scouts and other volunteers (28 people in all) helped out with the project's planting day on Oct. 10. They completed various types of work around the area.

According to McCluskey, Travis Richardson, a Price Boy Scout, was seeking an Eagle Scout project so FFSL and the Utah State Division of Wildlife Resources worked together to make sure everything happened..

Species planted included: Squawbush, golden current, coyote and yellow willow, Indian rice grass, alkali sacaton, blue grama, globemallow, big sage, saltbush, shadescale, dogbane, basin wildrye, and sagewort.

Russian olive trees are classified as noxious because they are non-native and, as previously mentioned; they force out native plants and consume water resources. The trees were brought to North America during the late 19th century as a wind block because they can grow almost anywhere and spread quickly.

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