OK's Sea of Juniper May Require Fire

Nov 23, 2015

In the fight against juniper, prescribed fire allows land managers to burn responsibly.
Credit inverse.com

Oklahoma rangeland specialists are warning of a slow-motion ecological disaster, reports inverse.com. Juniper trees are gradually stripping Oklahoma of its grasslands. They’re everywhere, eating up the plains. These trees destroy historical ecosystems and fill in otherwise productive rangeland. Two different species of juniper are causing problems: Ashe juniper and eastern redcedar.

For centuries, these trees were contained by fire. But improvements in firefighting technology have led to rampant spreading of juniper. One wildlife specialist at Oklahoma State University wants to bring that fire back. “The Great Plains were frequently burned by Native American tribes,” says Dwayne Elmore. A Utah State specialist agrees, adding, “We’ve put more fuel in the stove without lighting it, so to speak.”