Promising new partnerships between government, civic leaders, non-profit organizations and businesses formed due to the growing alarm around the proliferation of Western Juniper throughout eastern Oregon. There is general agreement that Juniper needs to be removed from both public and privately-owned lands to improve grazing land, discourage the spread of invasive weed growth, improve water supply, and to protect and restore available habitat for sensitive species like the Sage Grouse.
In addition, many feel that Juniper treatment as a key component of rangeland restoration has tremendous potential to create jobs, provide economic opportunity to struggling timber and forest product industries throughout Oregon, and provide a plentiful resource for biomass energy production in the near to mid-term.
During the summer and early fall of 2011, Oregon Solutions conducted an assessment of the current status of juniper in Oregon and perceived challenges and opportunities to successful utilization of the available juniper resources. The assessment included discussions with key stakeholders and on September 7 Oregon Solutions convened a small planning group to discuss the identified issues and opportunities, current Juniper utilization efforts, new and emerging opportunities and to brainstorm potential pathways forward.
New opportunities exist to fund juniper removal and to re-purpose the biomass accumulated. A steady supply of juniper means that jobs can be created for those in the juniper market, including millworkers, artisans, forest workers and others.
Conversations among the juniper group thus far have touched on supply, management, science, harvest, funding and utilization including primary and secondary processing, marketing and product development
The ultimate purpose of a juniper workgroup is to foster a consistent juniper communication network to develop supply chains, leverage investments and unlock opportunities associated with rangeland restoration and juniper removal. We know increased connectivity among juniper stakeholders can lead to new jobs and greater utilization of juniper which has been made available as the result of rangeland restoration.
Western Juniper Utilization Group/ Bureau of Land Management/US Forest Service/Sustainable Northwest Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Western Juniper and Economic Opportunity
The Western Juniper website, maintained by Scott Leavengood, Director of the Oregon Wood Innovation Center at OSU, provides additional background on the characteristics of juniper and research efforts to develop its potential for commercial uses.
Information regarding juniper products and markets including sources of raw material (e.g., if you want to buy or sell western juniper products) can be found at The Western Juniper Manufacturer Home Page
For those of you interested in the Western Juniper design and engineering testing being conducted at Oregon State University, the team at the Oregon Wood Innovation Center has created a web page to keep people up-to-date.
Access info about OWEB’s juniper-related work. This page provides descriptions of/links to 1) the juniper management guide developed for OWEB by Hugh Barrett to inform design and implementation of juniper treatments and 2) two juniper effectiveness monitoring reports that takes a programmatic look at the ecological effects emerging from some of the agency’s past juniper treatment investments.