CABNR researchers discuss work at Pinyon-Juniper summit in Las Vegas

Several CABNR professors and researchers contributed their expertise at a Pinyon-Juniper Restoration and Utilization Summit Dec. 8-9 in North Las Vegas. CABNR faculty members Tom Harris, Tamzen Stringham and Maggie Cowee all serve on the steering committee for the Nevada Pinyon-Juniper Partnership, which is investigating ways to control the dramatic spread of pinyon-juniper forests into Nevada's ranges and sagebrush habitat.

The p-j forests are taking over thousands of acres every year, destroying brush habitat that is valuable to wildlife, including the sage grouse, and causing severe erosion problems and fire danger. The goal of the project is to remove or thin out encroaching forests and utilize the wood as biomass for alternative energy, biofuels or other wood products.

Nearly 175 people attended the summit and helped create a proposal for a Demonstration Project for Pinyon-Juniper Treatment in eastern Nevada. Stringham discussed her work on the Smith Creek Ranch, where she and other researchers are measuring the impact p-j tree removal has on the understory vegetation and hydrology of an area previously overtaken by the trees.

Stringham's work on the Smith Creek Ranch will lead to a better understanding of pinyon- juniper treatment methods that best re-establish understory vegetation and groundwater recharge. In a different session, CABNR Prof. Rang Narayanan moderated a session titled, "Leveraging Community and Economic Benefits in Nevada."

Tom Harris, the director of the University Center for Economic Development, contributed a white paper that explored the potential economic impacts of a proposed pinyon-juniper electric power plant in Lincoln or White Pine counties. CABNR Associate Professor Barry Perryman was co-author with Robert Wilson and William Morrill of another paper that explored the severe fire dangers posed by the encroachment of pinyon-juniper and cheatgrass.