What would our wintering robins do without Western juniper? All day long they're out feeding on juniper berries (cones actually), guzzling water to help digest the berries and leaving the remains on tops of cars, sidewalks and other flat surfaces.
What would the Juniper hairstreak butterfly do with the tree that bears its name? How about the ferruginous hawk, other raptors and even golden eagles who build nests in the very top in which they raise their young, and the mule deer who use it as a thermal shelter in winter?
Juniper is also wonderful wood to burn in winter to keep the hearth in our homes warm and cozy. Juniper makes beautiful furniture, and an old growth juniper towering above juniper and sage on a bright-moon night is a magnificent sight to behold.
But junipers use a lot of water grasses would like to have, so cows could eat it and ranchers would smile a lot, not frown when they look at all those acres and acres of "useless" junipers blotting out the grasses. So, what about the Western juniper?
On November 21, the Sisters Science Club presented a talk by Tim Deboot titled, "Juniper—Trees or Weeds? Returning to the Natural Grasslands of Our Past."
The speaker, Dr. Deboot, is an Oregon State University County Extension Agent/Rangeland Manager. He serves the Central Oregon area as the person responsible for developing and delivering educational information regarding rangelands, and their use and management for the OSU Extension Service.
Dr. Deboot's programs include information on grazing, range improvements and range/watershed issues. He works with public land management agencies, landowners and others to provide technical information and research findings for grazing, riparian restoration and other public policy issues.
He represents Crook County on the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board Region 4 review team, the Ochoco-Deschutes National Forest Resource Advisory Committee and Crook County Natural Resource Advisory Committee. Deboot has served on state-wide committees for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Department of Forestry and the Department of Environmental Quality.
His current research activities include the evaluation of western Juniper control on watershed function and hydrology, assessing water quality parameters as influenced by land management activities and restoration of rangeland health using prescribed fire and other management practices.
Dr. Deboot started working for the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service in 1983, at Jackson, Wyo. He moved to Prineville in 1987 and has worked for the OSU Extension Service for the last 26 and-a-half years.
"In 1976, I thought I wanted to be a forester," Deboot says, "having worked as a summer seasonal employee for the Forest Service in the Black Hills of South Dakota, I decided to pursue a degree in forest management. The University of Wyoming, where I was attending at the time, didn't offer a degree in Forestry, so in 1978 I had to transfer somewhere."
"My choices were Syracuse, New York, Fort Collins, Colorado and Corvallis, Ore. I chose OSU. My first quarter of classes took me into McDonald Forest and the Coast Range. Having grown up in Western Nebraska, I couldn't get used to not being able to see more than 20 feet in front of me."
"I felt claustrophobic, so I took a little walk around campus one day and ended up in Withycombe Hall, home to the Department of Animal Sciences and OSU's range program. By 5 that night, I was no longer going to be a forester and instead began what has turned into a wonderful 30 year career in range management."