To some people the Russian olive tree may be a thing of beauty. But not in Wayne County, where commissioners consider it an unwanted noxious weed.
About 500 trees were removed just a day or two after they were planted in the Bicknell Bottoms by the Division of Wildlife Resources on state-owned land. State officials promptly complied with a request to remove them."We don't want to make a big issue about it and the division people were good about it," said Commissioner Meeks Morrell. "The one who planted them apparently didn't realize they are on Wayne County's noxious weed list."
Wayne is only one of three counties in the state that lists the Russian olive as a noxious weed. State officials planted them to provide cover for birds and wildlife.
The birds are part of the problem, as far as Wayne County commissioners are concerned. The tree's fruit is good feed for birds but it contains a pit that, when eaten by the birds, is spread to other areas when they are in flight or land elsewhere, Morrell said.
"It is not a friendly tree and we don't want it." The commissioner said the tree has thorns about 2 inches long and "it takes over everything." It is basically a wetland tree.
"We don't want the Bicknell Bottoms to look like it does between Richfield and Glenwood (in Sevier county)," the commissioner said. "We just don't want Russian olive trees in the county."
Years ago the Russian Olive was widely scattered in Sevier County. Now, in the area referred to by Morrell, it has virtually taken over substantial acreage. It has spread along the Sevier River, throughout pastures and even into borrow pits along the state highway east of Richfield.
The commissioner said Wildlife Resources has also planted four-wing box bush in Wayne County, to which the county has no objection.