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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DISTURBANCE ASSESSMENT AND MITIGATION OF GREAT BASIN RANGELAND

Location: Northwest Watershed Management Research

Title: Western Juniper Field Guide: Asking the Right Questions to Select Appropriate Management Actions

Authors
item Miller, Richard -
item Bates, John
item Svejcar, Anthony
item Pierson, Frederick
item Eddleman, Lee -

Submitted to: United States Geological Survey Circular
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: July 1, 2007
Publication Date: July 1, 2007
Citation: Miller, R., Bates, J.P., Svejcar, A.J., Pierson Jr, F.B., Eddleman, L. 2007. Western Juniper Field Guide: Asking the Right Questions to Select Appropriate Management Actions. United States Geological Survey Circular 1321, 61p.

Interpretive Summary: Western juniper now occupies 7.9 million acres primarily in central and eastern Oregon, northeastern California, southwestern Idaho, and northwestern Nevada. The expansion of western juniper during the past 130 years has resulted in increased soil erosion, diminished wildlife habitat, reduced forage production, and reduced biodiversity in northern Great Basin plant communities. Developing a juniper management strategy can be a difficult task due to uncertainty about how vegetation, soils, hydrologic function, and wildlife will respond to treatments. This document presents a decision making strategy for juniper control treatments based on a synthesis of what is known about the history, biology, ecology, and management of western juniper. This guide provides a set of tools that will help field biologists, land managers, and private landowners conduct rapid qualitative field assessments to help evaluate a site. Conducting this assessment, particularly with an interdisciplinary team, will help users prioritize sites to be treated, select the best treatment, and predict outcomes.

Technical Abstract: The rapid expansion of western juniper into neighboring plant communities during the past 130 years has been linked to increased soil erosion; reduced forage production; altered wildlife habitat; changes in plant community composition, structure, and biodiversity. Impacts of post-settlement woodland expansion are not always clear or consistent across sites and have lead to debate and legal challenges over juniper control projects and management plans for western juniper. Developing a management strategy can be a difficult task due to uncertainty about how vegetation, soils, hydrologic function, and wildlife will respond to treatments. When developing a management strategy, the first and possibly most important step towards success is asking the right questions. Identifying the attributes of the area to be treated and selecting the right treatments to be applied are of utmost importance. This guide provides a set of tools that will help field biologists, land managers, and private landowners conduct rapid qualitative field assessments that address the kind of site and its current state. These tools include a list of questions to be addressed and a series of photographs, keys, tables, and figures to help evaluate a site. Conducting this assessment will help prioritize sites to be treated, selection of the best treatment, and prediction of outcomes. Success of a juniper management program may be greatly enhanced if an interdisciplinary team of local managers and resource specialists, who are experienced with vegetation, fuels, soils, hydrology, wildlife, and economic and sociological aspects of the local resource, use this guide to aid their decision-making.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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