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Western juniper trees have been steadily encroaching on meadows and valleys in the greater Owyhee County area over the last 50 years, and in the last 10-15 years, it's been getting even more pronounced. As a result, juniper trees are consuming habitat that normally would be used by the greater sage-grouse, wildlife and cattle.
Aerial surveys show that juniper density has increased 3-5 fold in Owyhee County, compared to historic levels. The absence of fire has accelerated the invasion.
"Something needs to be done," says Owyhee County Commissioner Jerry Hoagland, a member of the Owyhee County Sage-Grouse Working Group. "When we started fighting fire to protect our property, the juniper started to expand, and it's like a wildfire now, the way they're expanding."Read More