Western juniper management: assessing strategies for improving greater sage-grouse habitat and rangeland productivity

Environmental Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

Western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis subsp. occidentalis) range expansion into sagebrush steppe ecosystems has affected both native wildlife and economic livelihoods across western North America. The potential listing of the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) under the U.S. Endangered Species Act has spurred a decade of juniper removal efforts, yet limited research has evaluated program effectiveness. We used a multi-objective spatially explicit model to identify optimal juniper removal sites in Northeastern California across weighted goals for ecological (sage-grouse habitat) and economic (cattle forage production) benefits. We also extended the analysis through alternative case scenarios that tested the effects of coordination among federal agencies, budgetary constraints, and the use of fire as a juniper treatment method. We found that sage-grouse conservation and forage production goals are somewhat complementary, but the extent of complementary benefits strongly depends on spatial factors and management approaches. Certain management actions substantially increase achievable benefits, including agency coordination and the use of prescribed burns to remove juniper. Critically, our results indicate that juniper management strategies designed to increase cattle forage do not necessarily achieve measurable sage-grouse benefits, underscoring the need for program evaluation and monitoring.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Western juniper management: assessing strategies for improving greater sage-grouse habitat and rangeland productivity
Series title Environmental Management
DOI 10.1007/s00267-015-0521-1
Volume 56
Issue 3
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 9 p.
First page 675
Last page 683
Country United States
State California, Oregon, Nevada
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N