[Photo by Nathan Wynn / Moab Sun News]

Canyon Country Youth Corps crew member Taylor McClelland, front, cuts down a Russian olive tree at The Nature Conservancy’s Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve on Thursday, Dec. 17, as Cole Atcitty of Aneth rounds up the pieces and piles them up in the background.

The non-native trees are growing out of control along many of Utah’s rivers and streams, including the Matheson Wetlands. Russian olives – which can reach heights of up to 30 feet – threaten the health of native plants and animals and disturb the area’s natural cycle, according to Tracey Stone of The Nature Conservancy.

The Four Corners School of Outdoor Education’s Canyon Country Youth Corps project is part of a multi-year restoration effort designed to bring back native plant communities, critical wildlife habitat and wetlands, she said.