The Russian Olive Outcome, A Land Owner Decision



These small sprouts can be easily killed but cutting the growth at ground level and immediately applying herbicide.

Boulder is the first town in the Southwest to attempt the complete management of Russian olive on private lands.  In fact, Boulder Community Alliance, in cooperation with local landowners, has successfully removed this invasive tree from all private properties in Boulder, with the exception of specific trees that landowners wished to keep for practical or decorative purposes.

BCA works purely to support the land owner’s desired outcome.  “It’s what the land owner wants,” explained Steve Cox, “and the long-term outcome is based on [their] desire and commitment.”  Since 2011, Steve has worked with local landowners to manage the removal of this invasive tree on private property throughout Boulder town.

From 2010 through 2014, BCA has received funding from the Walton Family Foundation as part of their Freshwater Initiative.  The majority of the cutting was completed in 2010-2011, and BCA has been re-treating and monitoring since 2011 to the present day.

This is the last year BCA will receive money for re-treatment.  Throughout 2014, Steve will continue to help with this transition by providing land owners with personalized demonstrations and instructions on how to keep Russian olive regrowth in check.  Land owners will be completely responsible for maintaining this valuable investment beginning in 2015.


Piles of cut Russian olive. According to the land owner’s desire, these piles can be chipped, used for firewood, or left alone.


When discussing Russian olive removal with various individuals, BCA is often asked the same question: “Why fight a losing battle?”  Understandably, there are many people who feel that the removal of Russian olive is an impossible task.  So is this a hopeless battle?  Absolutely not.  In Boulder the battle has already been won.

It is important to remember that we are not fighting against a cruel enemy; we are seeking to manage a problematic invasive.  Steve explained that, “We want to keep Russian olives at a level where we can coexist with them.”  We are never going to eliminate every tree, but if land owners consistently manage and re-treat, we can prevent them for taking over the ditches once again, Steve said.

Although the battle is over, we have yet to win the war.  The actual removal of the trees—the expensive bulk of the work—has already been completed.  True and lasting success will result only through continued upkeep.  By simply exterminating Russian olive sprouts as they appear, land owners can prevent re-growth with relative ease.


“Russian olive removal in Boulder is already done,” Steve pointed out.  “Now it’s just about educating landowners and turning it over to them.  But ultimately it’s [their] land.”

“It’s been a massive effort, both in coordination and in literally hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past several years.” said Peg Smith, BCA Exec. Director. “But it’s all effort and money that’s been redirected back into the community. We’re leaving Boulder landowners with an out-of-control situation made manageable. It’s up to individuals now to determine the outcome.”



Controlling Russian Olive Handout

Identifying Russian Olive Handout

Re-treatment & Monitoring Form


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