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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: RANGELAND RESTORATION AND MANAGEMENT

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Title: Juniper Cutting and Prescribed Fire Combinations; South Mountain, Idaho

Authors
item Bates, Jonathan
item Davies, Kirk
item Sheley, Roger
item Sharp, R - BLM - BURNS, OR

Submitted to: Extension Reports
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 2008
Publication Date: June 1, 2008
Citation: Bates, J.D., Davies, K.W., Sheley, R.L., Sharp, R. 2008. Juniper cutting and prescribed fire combinations; south mountain, idaho. Extension Reports.Range Field Day 2008 Progress Report. Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station, Special Report 1085. Burns, OR. pp. 62-68.

Interpretive Summary: Western juniper expansion into sagebrush steppe plant communities in the northern Great Basin has resulted in diminished shrub-steppe productivity and reduced plant and wildlife diversity. The purpose of this study has been to evaluate the use of cut juniper to provide enough dry surface fuels to carry a fire, kill remaining live trees, and restore native plant communities. We assessed what level of cutting was required to eliminate remaining juniper trees by fire in plant communities on South Mountain, southwestern Idaho. Tree cutting manipulations involved chainsaw cutting 25%, 50% and 75% of the juniper trees. Juniper tree cover prior to cutting ranged between 35-70% and tree density was 100-200 trees per acre. Juniper trees were cut in October 2002, dried for one year, after which prescribed fire was applied to in October 2003. Regardless of cutting treatment the fire application was uniformly successful at removing remaining live junipers. In areas, with similar woodland characteristics, it is estimated that only 15-25% of the trees need to be cut to successfully remove remaining live juniper. This would substantially reduce the cost per acre for removing juniper and would allow larger areas to be treated more cost effectively. All treatments produced severe impacts to the understory and full herbaceous recovery will likely exceed 5 years post-fire. Plant composition in this study was mainly native forbs and grasses. However, this type of treatment should not be done in areas with non-native weeds present as they will rapidly dominate a site.

Technical Abstract: Western juniper expansion into sagebrush steppe plant communities in the northern Great Basin has resulted in diminished shrub-steppe productivity and reduced plant and wildlife diversity. The purpose of this study has been to evaluate the use of cut juniper to provide enough dry surface fuels to carry a fire, kill remaining live trees, and restore native plant communities. We assessed what level of cutting was required to eliminate remaining juniper trees by fire in plant communities on South Mountain, southwestern Idaho. Tree cutting manipulations involved chainsaw cutting 25%, 50% and 75% of the juniper trees. Juniper tree cover prior to cutting ranged between 35-70% and tree density was 100-200 trees per acre. Juniper trees were cut in October 2002, dried for one year, after which prescribed fire was applied to in October 2003. Regardless of cutting treatment the fire application was uniformly successful at removing remaining live junipers. In areas, with similar woodland characteristics, it is estimated that only 15-25% of the trees need to be cut to successfully remove remaining live juniper. This would substantially reduce the cost per acre for removing juniper and would allow larger areas to be treated more cost effectively. All treatments produced severe impacts to the understory and full herbaceous recovery will likely exceed 5 years post-fire. Plant composition in this study was mainly native forbs and grasses. However, this type of treatment should not be done in areas with non-native weeds present as they will rapidly dominate a site.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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