Promising new partnerships between government, civic leaders, nonprofit organizations and businesses formed due to the growing alarm around the proliferation of western juniper throughout eastern Oregon. There was general agreement that juniper needed to be removed from 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 felt that juniper treatment was a key component of range-land restoration with the 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 2011, Oregon Solutions was asked to conduct 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 in September 2011, Oregon Solutions convened a small planning group to discuss the identified issues and opportunities, current juniper utilization efforts, and new and emerging opportunities, and to brainstorm potential pathways forward.
Western Juniper Utilization Group/ Bureau of Land Management/US Forest Service/Sustainable Northwest Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Western Juniper and Economic Opportunity (PDF)
The Western Juniper website 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 website
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.