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Producers Offer Free Tour June 25 Focusing on Improving Rangeland Health Through Juniper Control Strategies

MEDORA, N.D. — In coordination with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the North Dakota  Wildlife Federation, and other partners, the North Dakota Badlands Restoration Project is offering producers a  free tour on Tuesday, June 25 focusing on improving rangeland health through juniper control strategies. The  event starts at 10 a.m. Mountain Time at the Medora Community Center with a presentation discussing the  effects on plant composition, forage quality, and soil impacts in juniper removal areas. The tour, departing and  returning to Medora, runs from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mountain Time, featuring stops at juniper removal  management sites. Free bus transportation and lunch are provided. For registration and more information, visit www.northdakotawildlife.org/event

Wildfire Risk and Collaboration 

Junipers increase wildfire risk due to their flammability and ability to spread hot embers. Collaborative efforts  between NRCS and the U.S. Forest Service have led to the North Dakota Badlands Restoration Project, aimed  at managing juniper stands using mechanical methods. 

Producers Act Against Juniper Spread  

Kim Shade and Alan Richard are actively combating the spread of Rocky Mountain junipers on their ranches  near Medora in southwest North Dakota. “Junipers have become my worst noxious weed,” says Shade, who  purchased a track hoe mounted tree shear to clear junipers encroaching on grasslands. “Junipers have become  a real problem,” agrees Richard, who enlisted a contractor with a track hoe mounted tree masticator to grind  up encroaching junipers.  

Both men are collaborating with the NRCS in North Dakota for juniper removal, with additional efforts  underway on adjacent and neighboring National Grasslands administered by the Forest Service. 

Addressing the Juniper Invasion Historically

Rocky Mountain junipers were limited to north-facing draws and butte summits in the Badlands. However,  with changes in land management over the past century, including fire suppression, junipers have proliferated  into grasslands. “It is like a slow green wave coming at you,” says Mike Gerbig, NRCS Badlands conservation  delivery unit supervisor, Dickinson, N.D. Others have likened it to a “green glacier.”  

“It is important to stay ahead of juniper encroachment because the trees can completely change grasslands,”  says Johnathan Fettig, NRCS state rangeland specialist in North Dakota. “They are master manipulators of the  environment.” 

Water Consumption and Erosion Concerns 

An 8 ½-inch diameter juniper tree can consume 30-35 gallons of water a day, posing a significant threat in  areas like the Badlands, which receive minimal precipitation. Dense juniper stands can also dry up springs and  creeks, exacerbating erosion and depriving wildlife and livestock of essential habitat and forage. 

Financial Assistance and Support  

NRCS offers financial assistance to private landowners for juniper removal, with partners providing additional  support of up to $100/acre to offset costs.  

More Information 

For more information on financial assistance and technical advice, contact your local NRCS field office or visit  the North Dakota NRCS website at North Dakota | Natural Resources Conservation Service (usda.gov)

For inquiries about the tour, contact Cara Greger, Western North Dakota Conservation Coordinator, at 320- 808-4897 or cgreger.ndwf@gmail.com

To learn more about NRCS programs, producers can contact their local USDA Service Center. Producers can  also apply for NRCS programs, manage conservation plans and contracts, and view and print conservation  maps by logging into their farmers.gov account. If you don’t have an account, sign up today

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