Removing Russian Olive Trees

Why are Russian olive trees bad?

The slivery Russian olive tree is a nasty, thorny, hard-wood tree that easily takes over riparian (river bank) corridors and consumes a lot of water. The problem is the cottonwoods and willows are being choked out by Russian olive trees, negatively impacting riparian habitat along the Virgin River.

Many desert wildlife species, including endangered and species of concern, use these areas for cover, food, and, more importantly, it is a water source in this arid region. Russian olive trees lower water tables, limit wildlife habitat, and can increase wildfire risk. They also alter the flow of the river, resulting in incised stream banks, increasing flood damage risk, and reducing water quality.

By removing these invasive plants, water quality and quantity will increase, wildfire risk will decrease, and numerous wildlife species will benefit from restoring this ecosystem. Pioneer accounts describe Zion Canyon filled with many cottonwood trees as early as 1860, but today there, is insufficient successful cottonwood reproduction to replace those aging trees. Cottonwood reproduction is reduced throughout the park through man-made structures and bank armoring due to the fear that flooding would take the soil downstream. Grafton has one of few places on the Virgin River that cottonwoods are regenerating. One of our Grafton Heritage Partnership Project goals is to preserve the Virgin River’s floodplain habitat for wildlife and plants.

The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands used grant funds to clear Russian olive trees from 70 acres of Grafton’s floodplain property near the gravel pit. This state project is part of Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative (WRI) to improve high-priority watersheds throughout the state.The WRI project starts upriver of the Quail Creek Diversion Dam along the riparian corridor of the Virgin River and goes to the Zion National Park boundary. Next year we will clear another part of our floodplain property of Russian olive trees.

Butch Cassidy 10K/5K

Photo Jim Harlan 10K Run

The Town of Springdale will hold the Butch Cassidy 10k run/5k walk, which is the best race that Southern Utah has to offer!Come run in-person from Springdale to Grafton and take part in this great tradition in Zion Canyon! They will include all of the things people love about the race, the “Catch Butch” competition, the selfie contest, Butch Cassidy look-alike, the poker hand, and of course, some fabulous prizes.This year’s proceeds will go to the Grafton Heritage Partnership Project and the Zion Canyon Medical Clinic.Come join the fun!! More information:

Grafton closed at Dusk

The Town of Rockville passed an ordinance that Grafton is closed at dusk.

Ken Wilson lead a LDS church group from Green Valley to do a service project in Grafton.

Ken Wilson and Service Group

They were able to clean out weeds and overgrowth to clear a path to read the Grafton Cemetery sign. Before they started their project, Ken gave the youth a history lesson concerning the early settlers and how important the Grafton pioneer settlement was. They all worked so hard to make sure the sign was visible.

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Grafton Heritage Partnership Project, PO Box 630184, Rockville, Utah 84763 Jane Whalen, President 435-635-2133,, Jack Burns, Vice President Therese Feinauer, Treasurer