Photographs by Ken Miracle.
Junipers are a native tree in Idaho. So why is The Nature Conservancy helping to chomp them up?
Improper grazing management, fire suppression and possibly climate change have created conditions for junipers to encroach and overtake sagebrush habitat.
In the Owyhees, analysts estimate that junipers are expanding their range by 2500 acres per year.
Sage grouse require open areas to display in the spring time. Junipers provide the perfect perch for raptors, so the grouse avoid these areas. In the shade of junipers, grasses and other plants important for wildlife disappear--leading also to increased likelihood of soil erosion.
The project is focusing on meadow areas important for sage grouse.
When the project is finished, nice meadows with sagebrush and native grasses will be all that remains--perfect for sage grouse and other wildlife.