Solving the problem of the thirsty juniper
Early ranchers shared the wide-open lands of Central and Eastern Oregon with about 1 million acres of native western juniper. Today, biologists estimate that juniper stands now cover more than 9 million acres. The thirsty trees suck up precious water resources and crowd out other plants and wildlife. That’s not good. High desert ecosystems suffer greatly from the invasion. One juniper can suck up to 40 gallons of water a day, water that could be nourishing grasses, wildlife and cattle. A collaboration of government agencies, business leaders and nonprofit groups is working hard to create a market for the species, which would slow the spread of juniper while injecting a dose of badly needed vitality into the region’s cash-strapped economy.
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