City of Flagstaff – Removal of Invasive Russian Olive and Siberian Elm Trees

Six large Russian Olive trees and over 100 Siberian Elm trees were identified for removal, mostly along the Flagstaff Urban Trail System (FUTS) and Arizona trail in the McMillan Mesa Natural Area. Under a grant from the AZ Department of Forestry & Fire Management TREE City USA program, the City of Flagstaff will begin removing these trees starting on April 7, 2021. Removing these trees will reduce invasive plant populations, thereby allowing native plants to thrive and protecting this native grassland from tree encroachment. This project will also maintain and enhance the diversity of habitats that support native wildlife and make the area more resilient to wildfire. Russian Olive and Siberian Elm invade grasslands and meadows, use and hold large amounts of ground water (making that water unavailable to native plants), form dense thickets that close open areas, and displace native vegetation (which in turn reduces forage for wild animals). For more information about invasive plants and the problems they cause, check out the USDA’s “Invasive Plants and Weeds of the National Forests and Grasslands in the Southwestern Region,” 2nd edition.

Because of the shade and buffer some of those trees currently provide between the new Veterans Home and the FUTS trail, in celebration of Arbor Day, there are plans to plant some native trees, such as Ponderosa Pine, Gambel Oak, or Alligator Juniper.