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Range Field Day 2008 Progress Report


Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station

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Piñon and juniper woodlands in the cold desert of the Intermountain West occupy over 44.6 million acres (Miller and Tausch 2001). These woodlands are commonly associated with sagebrush communities forming a mosaic of shrub-steppe and woodland across the region. Numerous studies have documented the recent expansion (since the late 1800’s) of these woodlands that has resulted in the replacement of shrub-steppe communities. Recent debate has challenged the degree of expansion in terms of percent of new areas occupied by trees and the increase in total population of piñon and juniper since the late 1800’s. Various interest groups have become concerned over the limited scientific evidence documenting the expansion of these conifers at a broad scale (in other words, landscapes or across entire woodlands) in the Intermountain Region. The fear of many groups is historic woodlands that occupied landscapes prior to Eurasian settlement in the late 1800’s are being burned, cut, and chained in the name of restoration.


Special Report 1085