Submitted to: Society for Ecological Restoration Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2007
Publication Date: 9/25/2007
Citation: 2007. Western juniper control using partial cutting and prescribed fire. Society for Ecological Restoration Abstracts[abstract] SS.7.1.
Technical Abstract: Post-settlement expansion of western juniper in the northern Great Basin has reduced deciduous woodland and shrub-steppe productivity and diversity. Cutting or prescribed fire have been the main methods used to remove juniper interference and rehabilitate pre-invasion plant communities. Cutting is typically used to remove juniper in invasive woodlands lacking sufficient fuel to carry fire. We employed combinations of cutting and fire to remove juniper in mid-invasive and late-invasive woodlands. Selective cutting is used to increase surface fuels to carry prescribed fire and kill remaining live trees. The response of seven mountain big sagebrush associations and aspen woodlands were evaluated for 4 years after applying cutting-fire combinations. Cutting treatments involved felling 25-33% of the juniper trees in stands. Trees were allowed to dry for one year before fire was applied. Aspen sprouting increased 4 to 8 fold in response to treatment when compared to controls. Shrub cover was reduced in all plant associations in response to treatment, though sprouting shrubs were recovering and sagebrush seedlings were present on most treated sites. Understory response varied, from those dominated by exotic species to sites mainly composed of native perennial grasses and forbs. The majority of treated sites exhibited classic early successional dynamics after fire in juniper woodlands, with the understory primarily composed of native perennial and annual forbs. Shrub and herbaceous understories have recovered faster in treated mid-invasive woodlands. This treatment should be employed cautiously when restoring plant communities in late invasive woodlands because of the potential for exotic weed dominance.