Other views: Upgrade Bismarck’s forestAt first glance, applying for a grant to upgrade Bismarck’s wooded (forest) river plain sounds foolish. The city forester wants $25,000 from the North Dakota Forest Service to build a riparian forest along the banks of the Missouri River near Riverwood Golf Course. The city would match the grant money with sweat equity. Why?
By: The Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
At first glance, applying for a grant to upgrade Bismarck’s wooded (forest) river plain sounds foolish. The city forester wants $25,000 from the North Dakota Forest Service to build a riparian forest along the banks of the Missouri River near Riverwood Golf Course. The city would match the grant money with sweat equity. Why?
The area in question is actually heavily wooded. One of the aggressive species is the Russian olive tree, a quick-growing, attractive tree. It is, however, non-native and invasive. City Forester Jackson Bird wants to dig out the Russian olives and replace them with silver maple, box elder, hackberry and iron woods. He contends those species will stabilize the stream bank, among other positive benefits. And while Russian olives may be attractive, they tend to choke out the other species.
So, go for the grant.
The Russian olive is native to Asia — Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — and southeastern Europe — Belarus and Moldova. It was planted in the central and western United States in the late 1800s. It’s a common species in Plains states’shelter belts. It “escaped” cultivation, and now grows wild in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
In parallel bit of North Dakota history and trivia, the state does have at least two forests. First, the petrified forest in the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where the Badlands are littered with the fossil remains of big trees dating back about 55 million years.
The second forest is the Denbigh Experimental Forest, 15 miles west of Towner. It was established in the early 1930s, when poor soil conservation practices and drought turned much of the Great Plains into wind-blown dunes.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s plan was to plant a shelter belt 100 miles wide from North Dakota to northern Texas. That, of course, didn’t happen, and North Dakota obtained a 636-acre forest made up of 30 species of woody plants, including a number of varieties of pine and spruce.
Forester Bird’s plan — a quarter mile section of river bank at Bismarck — seems more to scale.
North Dakotans love trees. Perhaps it’s an affection that dates back to early western settlement when U.S. troops mobilized in Dakota Territory could not find enough wood to build a fire and make coffee. Other than the cottonwoods along the Missouri and its tributaries, there wasn’t much for trees on this short-grass prairie. It made a little shade a fine thing to have.
The plan for culling the Russian olive from Bismarck’s wooded flood plain and replacing it with a mix of other species, most of them native, makes good sense.