Assessing Management Options for Juniper Encroachment
Western juniper is encroaching on sagebrush habitat. This reduces the availability of surface and ground water, livestock forage, and habitat for sagebrush-dependent wildlife such as the greater sage-grouse. Some social impacts (e.g., psychological, cultural and economic) of juniper control options remain uncertain and warrant further study to determine the level of community support for a new juniper management plan on public lands.
A team of four University of Idaho doctoral students, enrolled in an NSF-funded IGERT project, are partnered with the BLM on the Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-grouse Habitat Project (BOSH). The BOSH project is a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act)-required EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) in southwestern Idaho tasked with assessing management options for juniper encroachment across a 1.75 million acre landscape. The students (Amanda Bentley Brymer, Alex Suazo, Ryan Niemeyer, and Joe Holbrook) have been working together at the University of Idaho over the past three years to co-design an interdisciplinary project that will serve as a social impact assessment for the BLM (EIS).
About IGERT: Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship. IGERT is the National Science Foundation’s flagship interdisciplinary training program, educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers by building on the foundations of their disciplinary knowledge with interdisciplinary training.
Output & Outcomes:
Information from a series of workshops conducted throughout southwestern Idaho was widely disseminated at the McClure Forum on Science and Public Policy in September 2014. The forum, titled “Building Trust in Science: Is Idaho Getting it Right with Sage-grouse?” had about 120 attendees and aired on Idaho Public Television (archived recording available, select “McClure Center Forums” from drop-down menu).
Rangeland Center Members Involved:
- J.D. Wulfhorst - Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology (contact J.D. for more information)
- Janet Rachlow - Fish and Wildlife Sciences