of Oregon > Western Juniper
Western Juniper Forests
juniper “forests” are the driest forests in the
Pacific Northwest. In Oregon they’re found primarily east of the Cascades,
although they also grow on hot, dry, low-elevation sites
in southwestern Oregon. Due to intense
competition for water and an extreme aversion to shade, western
junipers grow in open, park-like stands. The widely spaced
juniper trees are typically surrounded by big
sagebrush, bitterbrush, and grasses.
Ponderosa pine often
occupies canyons and moist, north-facing slopes within
these forests. Western junipers also occupy shallow soil
areas within other eastside forest types. Prior to European
settlement and fire suppression, western juniper forests
were primarily limited to shallow soils and rim
rock, where vegetation was too sparse to carry fire. Fire
suppression has permitted western juniper to expand rapidly
into traditional rangeland, where it competes with
native grasses for water and nutrients.
Climate: Western juniper forests are found
in climates with hot, dry summers and cold, dry winters.
Most precipitation falls
during the winter.
Management: Management activities are
commonly aimed at controlling the spread of western juniper.
Fire and cutting, sometimes in combination, are used
to control junipers and to stimulate the growth of native
grasses. Although attractive, the wood of western juniper
is a minor forest product; a variety of
oils and chemicals are distilled from the foliage and
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