I feel kind of torn. This is, in some ways a very useful species. It produces edible fruit, fixes nitrogen in the soil and is great for stabilizing creek banks. On the other hand, it tends to be invasive and can form dense monoculture stands that choke out all other species. Also, by fixing high amounts of nitrogen in the soil, it tends to cause difficulty for species that don't tolerate high nitrogen content.
The contact at the extension office forwarded my email on to two other individuals, one from Iowa State University (a horticultural 'expert') and another with the state DNR. He evidently doesn't know that much about Autumn Olives and had some research (probably read some of the same information I had online) and couldn't offer a good opinion. Both individuals he forwarded the message to got back to me this afternoon. The guy from ISU commented on the uses but also indicated that this is a species that has been popping up more and more and has been causing trouble. He recommended that we remove the shrubs. The guy from the state DNR was much more emphatic. He indicated that this species is no longer recommended to be planted anywhere, for ornamentals or windbreaks and stated that it has become quite a problem in some areas of the state. He likened it to the problems that have been experienced with multiflora rose. He suggested that we remove the bushes immediately, especially since they are so close to our wetland.
So, we will probably go up when we have time and take them out. I've been learning in my permaculture class that there are 'no such things as invasive species' only species that are taking advantage of an unexploited niche in the environment and should be used as an indicator. Maybe I'm still at the skeptical stage but I have trouble with letting invasive species run their course as part of natural succession.
Any and all comments are appreciated as I try to sort through this.