What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “invasive species”? Lake trout in Yellowstone Lake. Rainbows in the South Fork. Snakeheads in the Chesapeake. Brookies in the Lamar drainage. Lionfish in the south Atlantic. Grass carp pretty much everywhere.
From a fly angler’s perspective, the list is long and, likely, primarily full of fish, which makes sense because that’s what we’re after. But for every fish we could name, there is also an unsettling number of plant-based invasive species most people don’t know about that are also destroying our fisheries and habitat—some of which aren’t even in the water, or thrive in close proximity to it. Our second Fisheries Fund grant recipient for 2018, American Rivers, is working to combat one such culprit on the Upper Yellowstone River—the Russian olive tree.
According to Scott Bosse, Northern Rockies Director of the organization, this project is focused on eradicating the only major infestation of non-native Russian olive trees along the Park County reach of the Upper Yellowstone River—a stand of trees that is wreaking environmental havoc on the river.
“By displacing native riparian vegetation such as willows and cottonwoods,” he reports, “they compromise riverbank stability, which puts more fine sediments to the river, smothering insect life and spawning gravels. They reduce shading, cover, and structure that wild trout depend on. Plus, the trees wall off the river, making access to prime water more difficult for float and wade anglers.
“With support from the AFFTA Fisheries Fund, we are working with local partners to eradicate the largest and furthest upstream invasion of Russian olives trees there.”
Following the removal of the trees, grant funding will be used to replant the area with native riparian vegetation such as willows and cottonwoods and then monitor and inventory the site for a period of five years to ensure the project is successful.
“This is a big deal for wild trout,” he adds. “A healthy riparian ecosystem is the foundation of the river’s wild trout fishery.” We agree, and are proud to support American Rivers in this initiative.
Learn more about American Rivers at americanrivers.org
The AFFTA Fisheries Fund was established in late 2014 with the main objective of funding organizations and projects focused on fisheries conservation and education. The Fisheries Fund is initially seeded with revenue from IFTD, and is now open to donations from AFFTA members and the general public. To learn more, apply for a grant, or make a contribution, visit affta.org/fisheries-fund