Monday, July 15, 2013

Russian Hordes Advance On the Alamo

After a year and a half or traveling in great circles around North America; from Panama to
Denali, I have found myself back where I started, killing Russian olive in the Southwest. Undoubtedly
the World has changed over these last 18 months and I know that time has changed me as well;
however the invasive Olives seem to have remained the same. They still have the tenacity to attempt
to remain alive despite saws, spray and sweat. Perhaps they have even more thorns then before, as my
scratched up arms seem to suggest. But here at the Nevada Conservation Corp we don’t have time to
bleed and the battle continues.

It always seems ironic to me that Conservation corps spends so much time killing things but I
have seen what these trees can do. I’ve witnessed the Russian Jungle overwhelming canyons in Utah,
choking out the native willows and once mighty cottonwoods, leaving nothing but impenetrable olive
thickets. Here at our Alamo, the Russian hordes are on the move, matching their way from the spring
head down through open fields and pasture, flanking cattle and advancing down the irrigation ditches,
towards the nature preserve. The native fauna offers little resistance and the cows are asleep at guard
duty. Only we stand in the way of the Russian invasion. Heavily armed with chainsaws, hatchets and
herbicide we remain vigilant against the tide. We will remember this Alamo, where we drew a line in
the cow paddy covered swamp and made our stand.

Here at least some advantages are ours. We have caught the olives not fully prepared. Yes they
still are covered in five inch thorns that turn gloves to Swiss cheese; they grow sideways out of
waterways and will always try to fall on you if you give them the chance. But here at least they are still
young, not fully established, spaced out an easier to isolate and kill then when they are established in a
fortified mass. Here we have a chance. However, we must remain vigilant, some regrowth is inevitable
and there will always be a few survivors. Hopefully our Alamo will be remembered and in the future
crews will be back to finish the battle and mop up any invasive trees that have escaped our net. For
now we will busy ourselves killing as many olives as we can find, with hope that future crews will pick up
where we left off.

Brent Killingbeck

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