Chainsaw Invasive Species Removal
Russian Olive is an incredibly hardy species whose survival and propagation has been facilitated by its adaptability to extreme conditions of heat, drought, periodic flooding, and the deep freeze of winter. Much like tamarisk, its prolific and rapid growth enables it to compete with native plants for water, light, and other resources – eventually displacing them entirely, resulting in extremely dense thickets that overcrowd and erode riverbanks. RMYC crew members are charged with running saws through their intricate tangles, cutting and piling the trees for removal and burning in the off season. Russian Olive is an extremely hard wooded tree – sawyers take frequent breaks throughout the day to sharpen their chains again and again. .
Heading through extreme western Colorado, snowy mountain peaks give way to a vast and dry high desert ecosystem, the sole trees in sight popping up only when rivers and streams make for them a passable growing environment. At dawn, a Rocky Mountain Youth Corps chainsaw crew prepares breakfast while several crew members sort out bars, chains, and small tool kits – making sure their chains are extra sharp for today’s work. They are camped on the outskirts of Rangely, a small town close to the Utah border almost entirely supported by oil and gas development in recent decades. Looking back even further into the history of this region, before oil and gas made its mark on the land, two types of extremely invasive riverside-dwelling trees began to to spread – Russian Olive and tamarisk.
Its branches are laden with sharp thorns, so long sleeves are an imperative – and yet crew members’ forearms still bear the scrapes of a tree not keen on its destruction. Crew members work in the heat of the day here in the desert, sweat marking the back of their sawyer shirts – yet their undaunted smiles can still be seen peeking out beneath their hard hats.