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In the late 1990s OWEB began providing grants to fund watershed restoration projects, including those controlling western juniper. In recent years there has been a growing interest in controlling juniper in order to improve forage production for grazing livestock, restore hydrologic function to rangelands, and protect sagebrush habitat. This increased awareness of the negative impacts of juniper expansion has resulted in a steady rise in the number of grant applications for juniper removal and management projects. Because OWEB's limited available funds and the seemingly unlimited acres needing juniper treatment in central and eastern Oregon, OWEB contracted with CSR Natural Resources Consulting, Inc. (NRCI) to complete several juniper removal studies and to provide educational opportunities to OWEB staff, Regional Review Team (RRT) members, Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), and Watershed Councils (WCs).
Please see the Documents section for the Field Guide and for reports relating to each heading below.
CSR NRCI developed a field manual that provides guidance to OWEB Field Representatives and technical review teams, SWCDs, and WCs for identifying and designing OWEB-funded juniper treatment projects. The final document was submitted to OWEB in September 2007 and was then reviewed and field tested by OWEB staff, Regional Review Team members, and SWCD and WC staff.
CSR NRCI monitored the effectiveness of juniper removal projects. Evaluations occurred in 2006 and 2007 in Wheeler and Crook counties for Phase I and in Klamath, Lake, Harney, and Grant counties for Phase II. Juniper treatment sites were evaluated using the rangeland health assessment, vegetation and soil surveys, and when possible a “control” or untreated adjacent juniper site. Results of both Phase I and II evaluations demonstrated the variability of treatment types and levels of success among OWEB juniper removal projects.
General recommendations developed based on both evaluations include:
CSR NRCI contrasted past management methods of western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) with an emerging ecologically based, landscape-scale approach that addressed the site-specific treatment needs of a watershed in which juniper had encroached or was in the process of in-fill.
The report details the geologic history, climate, soils, potential, and vegetation of the Crooked River Watershed of Central Oregon and reviews juniper control efforts conducted over a stretch of 60 years. A discussion of the emerging science, ecological principles, and landscape-scale approach to watershed prioritization is intended for use in developing a strategy for the enhancement of the semi-arid watersheds of
Oregon. The report concludes with a set of recommendations aimed at stimulating an acceleration of cooperative landscape-scale projects in the region and the State.
In 1994, the Camp Creek Paired Watershed Study was initiated to provide long-term, verifiable data which would be collected systematically to test the hypothesis, “does the removal of western juniper change the hydrologic function of a watershed?" This study occurred in 2 adjacent watersheds of about 260 acres each, Mays and Jensen, located about 60 miles southeast of Prineville, Oregon. Approximately 20% of the total study area is in private ownership with the remainder under the management of the Prineville District, Bureau of Land Management. In October 2005, following 11 years of monitoring various parameters (vegetation, ground water, spring flow, soil moisture, etc.), all “post-European aged trees” (those less than 140 years old) were cut in the Mays watershed. The trees in Jensen were left uncut and thus Jensen became the “control” watershed.
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