Vegetation Response to Western Juniper Slash Treatments Public Deposited

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  • The expansion of pion-juniper woodlands the past 100 years in the western United States has resulted in large scale efforts to kill trees and recover sagebrush steppe rangelands. It is important to evaluate vegetation recovery following woodland control to develop best management practices. In this study, we compared two fuel reduction treatments and a cut-and-leave (CUT) treatment used to control western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis spp. occidentalis Hook.) of the northwestern United States. Treatments were; CUT, cut-and-broadcast burn (BURN), and cut-pile-and-burn the pile (PILE). A randomized complete block design was used with five replicates of each treatment located in a curl leaf mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius Nutt. ex Torr. & A. Gray)/mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt. spp. vaseyana (Rydb.) Beetle)/Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis Elmer) association. In 2010, 4 years after tree control the cover of perennial grasses (PG) [Sandberg's bluegrass (Poa secunda J. Pres) and large bunchgrasses] were about 4 and 5 % less, respectively, in the BURN (7.1 ± A 0.6 %) than the PILE (11.4 ± A 2.3 %) and CUT (12.4 ± A 1.7 %) treatments (P < 0.0015). In 2010, cover of invasive cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) was greater in the BURN (6.3 ± A 1.0 %) and was 50 and 100 % greater than PILE and CUT treatments, respectively. However, the increase in perennial bunchgrass density and cover, despite cheatgrass in the BURN treatment, mean it unlikely that cheatgrass will persist as a major understory component. In the CUT treatment mahogany cover increased 12.5 % and density increased in from 172 ± A 25 to 404 ± A 123 trees/ha. Burning, killed most or all of the adult mahogany, and mahogany recovery consisted of 100 and 67 % seedlings in the PILE and BURN treatments, respectively. After treatment, juniper presence from untreated small trees (< 1 m tall; PILE and CUT treatments) and seedling emergence (all treatments) represented 25-33 % of pre-treatment tree density. To maintain recovery of herbaceous, shrub, and mahogany species additional control of reestablished juniper will be necessary.
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  • O’Connor, C., Miller, R., & Bates, J. D. (2013). Vegetation response to western juniper slash treatments. Environmental Management, 52(3), 553-566. doi:10.1007/s00267-013-0103-z
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