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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Aspen Restoration in the Great Basin Using Combinations of Selective Juniper Cutting and Prescribed Fire

Authors
item Bates, Jonathan
item Miller, Richard - OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Society of Range Management
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 20, 2005
Publication Date: February 1, 2005
Citation: Bates, J.D., Miller, R. 2005. Aspen restoration in the great basin using combinations of selective juniper cutting and prescribed fire [abstract]. Society of Range Management. Paper No. 17.

Technical Abstract: Western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis spp. occidentalis) woodlands are replacing quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) stands in the northern Great Basin. Aspen woodlands serve as important wildlife habitat and contain a high diversity of understory shrubs and herbaceous species. We assessed two juniper removal methods to restore aspen woodlands on Steens Mountain in eastern Oregon. Treatments involved cutting one-third of mature juniper trees followed by; 1) early fall burning; and 2) early spring burning. The study measured; 1) the effectiveness of treatments at removing juniper from seedling to mature trees; 2) monitored aspen recruitment; and 3) measured recovery of the shrub and herbaceous layers. Cutting combined with fall prescribed fire eliminated all remaining live juniper trees and seedlings. By the third year after fall fire aspen stem density averaged 10,000 stems/ha. Understory cover and diversity were reduced significantly and bare ground increased after the fall fire prescription. Cutting combined with spring burning removed 90% of the mature juniper trees. However, because the spring burn was of lower intensity 50% of juniper seedlings survived. Aspen suckering after spring fire was 2.5 times lower than the fall fire prescription. The understory in the spring prescription remained largely intact and herbaceous cover and diversity increased. If the objective is to remove juniper and simulate aspen recruitment, with minimal cutting, then woodlands should be fall burned. If the objective is to maintain the shrub/understory with reduced aspen recruitment and retain a few mature junipers in the community, then spring burning is recommended.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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