Since fire established the historical pattern, why not reintroduce fire as the restoration treatment? The cost of prescribed burns implemented on surrounding public land approaches or exceeds the land owner's value per acre. Controlled burns can also damage sage brush, an outcome that would fail to meet the objectives. The Owyhee LWG sought a cost-effective prescription to control juniper. The USFWS awarded a grant to the local working group to test and demonstrate the mechanical treatment of juniper removal.
awarded a contract to John Moffet, a contractor with 25 years experience. The early years of his business provided a service clearing power lines to utility companies . Today, John notes that the use of mechanical methods to grind the trees has evolved into an industry, and his largest market serves public and private landowners with fuel reduction objectives. His experience demonstrates that efficient removal is feasible, with costs in the demonstration area averaging $216/acre.Monitoring of the demonstration
will determine if the cost-effective prescription also meets resource objectives. The study design anticipates that native grasses will respond within the first year, and forbs will increase compared to current conditions.
To keep monitoring costs low, sample plots on transects will record vegetation using two cameras - one that records visible light reflected from the ground, and an infrared camera that is sensitive to green vegetation. The field camera image acquisition combined with image analysis software provide a monitoring scheme more efficient than other labor intensive field measurement methods. The images will capture a vertical measurement of the ground response.On each visit to the site
, observers will also record adult and brood use by sage grouse. The observations will help determine if the juniper removal not only reallocated resources on the site, but increased sage grouse use in the demonstration area.