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Showing posts from October, 2017

Habitat Restoration or Destruction? Pinyon-Juniper Removal Under Scrutiny

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Are pinyon pines and Utah juniper invasive species?  The Department of Interior is enthusiastically proposing to cut down  large swaths of pinyon-juniper woodland across the Great Basin Desert, although conservation group Basin and Range Watch is raising doubts about the scientific basis for such projects.  The ostensible purpose of removing the pinyon-juniper is to help the greater sage grouse and reduce fire risk, although it appears more likely that the deforestation is to benefit private livestock grazing operations.  Interior's claims that the projects are intended to support the sage grouse were further undermined after Interior opened up important grouse habitat elsewhere to oil and gas drilling earlier this year, even though experts say protecting remaining habitat is the most important step we can take toward saving it from decline.

Restoring historic sage grouse habitat to the native shrub and grasslands that the species needs to succesfully forage and breed is not easy…