Habitat Restoration Slowed But Not Stopped
Sometimes you just can’t win for losing. The U.S.Bureau of Land Management has been finding that out the hard way as it tries to carry out its juniper removal project in Eastern Oregon. The agency is hoping to restore habitat on 336,000 acres of mountainous terrain by removing juniper trees that have aggressively overtaken the landscape and displaced other native vegetation. Planned methods for the juniper removal include controlled burning, girdling and cutting. The majority of environmental groups in the area support the project, but the Oregon Natural Desert Association objects profusely and filed suit on the grounds that the project’s plan of using controlled burning might have a negative impact on sage grouse and the wild ambiance of the area. A rather strange objection when considering that the juniper encroachment threatens not only other native plant species but the sage grouse itself. A judge hearing the ONDA’s claims obviously felt the same way, sighting that sage grouse populations have remained stable in the area even though there have been numerous wild fires there over the last several decades.