Human Impact

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

There are many species of trees and shrubs living in City Creek that are not native to the area. These include, but are not limited to:

Western Hackberry
English Ivy
Siberian Elm
English Hawthorn
Russian Olive
Himalayan Blackberry
Ornamental and Horticultural Plum
Green Ash
American Elm
Poisonous Bittersweet
Sweet Cherry

How Did They Get Here?

There are several ways these plants are introduced into the City Creek area. Birds are one way: they eat what ever is fruiting in the cultivated areas of the Salt Lake Valley and then poop the seeds out onto the Riparian zone. Another way is wind dispersal, this tends to happen more with "winged" seeds, like Maples. Also, some may have escaped from the gateman's yard that is close to the trailhead. It's pretty safe to say that you can look no further than your own yard: the cultivated areas of the Salt Lake Valley are providing the seed sources for all the invading species of plants.

Isn't It Natural If A Bird Does It?

This is a sticky subject. While the idea of a bird munching a fruit and excreting the seeds seems like a natural process, the question is, would the bird be eating those seeds if humans haven't introduced them to the area? Probably not. While the dispersal mechanisms may seem natural -you've got to think about how these plants arrived in the valley, mostly on diesels headed for nurseries.

It Doesn't Make Much Sense

One way of thinking about human impact on the City Creek watershed is to think in financial terms. There is a limited "fund" of energy for the ecosystem to operate on, just as you have a fixed income. Non-native species take up some of that energy, but don't return as much energy to other organisms as native plants do. Essentially they take a chunk out of the ecosystem's "paycheck". What happens when you have less money? You aren't able to save for many contingencies. What happens if your car breaks down and you're living from paycheck to paycheck? This is what's happening in City Creek. The system has enough energy to maintain itself, but its energy to grow, reproduce, and recover from events like fire, floods, and tornados (?!) is slowly being drained away by the non-native plants.

What You Can Do

· Hug a tree: There are some very simple things you can do to help protect native areas in the Salt Lake Valley, like City Creek. The main thing is to broaden your sense of what is beautiful and useful. That's right! Hug a tree! Welcome ecology into your yard and home: allow the bugs to nibble on your plants without spraying them with pesticides. Unless your life is threatened, live and let live and watch your backyard teem with life.

· Consider these plants for your landscape:
Bigtooth Maple
Gambel Oak

Moutain Mahogany

Creeping Oregon Grape
Smooth and Fragrant Sumac
Pale Evening Primrose

to name a few....

· Tree Utah: This is a great organization to get involved with if you are looking to do some serious work to help restore the riparian zones in the Salt Lake Valley. They have various projects and plantings throughout the year. You don't need to know much, just how to dig a hole.


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