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Wilderness Volunteers

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, UT (Oct 2nd - Oct 8th 2016)

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Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a 1.9 million acre public treasure offering some of the most breathtaking scenery and diverse habitat found in the Colorado Plateau. The monument's vast and austere landscape embraces a spectacular array of scientific and historic resources. This high, rugged and remote region, where bold plateaus and multi-hued cliffs run for distances that defy human perspective, was the last place in the continental U.S. to be mapped. Even today, the unspoiled natural area remains a frontier, a quality that greatly enhances the monument's value for scientific study. The monument has a long and dignified human history: it is a place where one can see how nature shapes human endeavors in the American West. The monument presents exemplary opportunities for geologists, paleontologists, archaeologists, historians, and biologists...and of course volunteers!

Our project is part of the ongoing effort by Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to restore the Escalante river ecosystem by removing invasive Russian olive trees. GSENM is partnering in this 13-year effort with Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the State of Utah, private land owners and nonprofit organizations, and the project is part of the larger Escalante River Watershed Project. Russian olive were originally planted in the 1930s for wind break and decoration. They've now spread throughout many wild river systems in the western U.S. in part due to its very successful seed distribution in rivers. Besides dominating entire ecosystems by replacing native trees and shrubs, they act as huge siphons, depleting precious desert water resources.

Our service project is riparian restoration through invasive tree removal in the upper tributaries of the Escalante River above the town of Escalante. The exact site is still TBD but we expect to work from a tent and car basecamp, either in a remote setting or designated campground nearby the project site. We’ll focus on removing Russian olive from along high desert canyon streams and remove tamarisk as it's encountered. Volunteers kill the trees by either sawing them down or girdling them, and then quickly applying an herbicide. The herbicide the BLM uses is Habitat, which is mixed with water. It is applied with a sprayer directly to the stumps. Trees that are cut down without being treated with the herbicide sprout from the base and come back very thick

Check out more photos from previous year's Grand Staircase-Escalante project in our gallery.


Oct 2nd - Oct 8th 2016

Service Project

River restoration, removal of invasive Russian olive trees

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Free Days

Slot canyon, narrows or slickrock day hike, photography, relaxing.


State park campground with showers & running water.

Project Difficulty

Strenuous : Car & tent camping. Lopping, sawing and dragging trees. Bending, kneeling, lifting.


Christopher Riccardo
Bill Goolsby

Equipment List