Wilderness Volunteers: 2017 Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Utah) Service Trip
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is a 1.9-million-acre public treasure offering some of the most breathtaking scenery and diverse habitat found in the Colorado Plateau. The monument's vast and austere landscape embraces a spectacular array of scientific and historic resources. This high, rugged and remote region, where bold plateaus and multi-hued cliffs run for distances that defy human perspective, was the last place in the continental U.S. to be mapped. Even today, the unspoiled natural area remains a frontier, a quality that greatly enhances the monument's value for scientific study. The monument has a long and dignified human history: it is a place where one can see how nature shapes human endeavors in the American West. GSENM presents exemplary opportunities for geologists, paleontologists, archaeologists, historians, and biologists...and of course volunteers!
Our project is part of the ongoing effort by Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to restore the Escalante river ecosystem by removing invasive Russian olive trees. GSENM is partnering in this 13-year effort with Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the state of Utah, private land owners and nonprofit organizations, and the project is part of the larger Escalante River Watershed Project. Russian olive trees were originally planted in the 1930s for windbreaks and decoration. They've now spread throughout many wild river systems in the western U.S. in part due to its very successful seed distribution in rivers. Besides dominating entire ecosystems by replacing native trees and shrubs, they act as huge siphons, depleting precious desert water resources.
Volunteers kill the trees by either sawing them down close to the ground (or girdling them if they are too big to cut), and then quickly applying an herbicide. The herbicide the BLM uses is Habitat, which is mixed with water. It is applied with a sprayer directly to the stumps. Trees that are cut down without being treated with the herbicide within a few minutes of cutting typically sprout from the base and come back very bushy.
For more information: http://www.WildernessVolunteers.org
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2017 Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument