Russian Olive

Russian Olive fruit and thorns

The state has given $125,000 toward getting rid of phragmites -- invasive reeds -- around Utah Lake this year, and the cash will come with an added benefit.

Because crews are already working in the area, and because tamarisk and Russian olives are also invading the shoreline, the state has directed crews to attack them too.

"Tamarisk and Russian olives are not the target species, but we are going after them too as part of the project," said Rich Riding, who is the invasive species mitigation manager for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

A helicopter is being used to spray stands of the unwanted reeds and trees, which are not native and are crowding natives from the shoreline, disrupting the ecosystem. Bullrush and cattails -- which are native and wanted -- are being skipped whenever crews find them. So are homes.

"We are trying to stay away from homes and desirable vegetation," he said of spraying. An aquatic-rated version of the weedkiller Roundup is being used. The goal is to restore the shoreline to a more natural state.

The $125,000 given by the state to fund the project this year is up from $119,000 allocated last year. The work is called the Utah Lake Shoreline Restoration Project, and is expected to take a decade. The effort is part of $1.3 million being invested around Utah to fight weeds that feed wildfires. The cash will be spread across 41 projects. Other weeds targeted include cheatgrass (also called June grass), medusahead and rush skeletonweed

"The long-term goal of the project is to return all the beaches around the lake to a healthy, usable condition," said Aaron Eager, Utah County Weed Supervisor in a statement. "Working in cooperation with the Utah Lake Commission, great progress has been made to reclaim beaches and restore desirable vegetation."

caleb-warnock
-- Caleb Warnock covers 11 cities in north Utah County and is also the Daily Herald's environmental reporter. You can find him on Facebook and at calebwarnock.blogspot.com.
Read more from Caleb Warnock here.
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