Large, fallen trees in various stages of decay contribute much-needed
diversity to terrestrial and aquatic habitats in western forests. When most
biological activity in soil is limited by low moisture availability in
summer, the fallen tree-soil interface offers a relatively cool, moist
habitat for animals and a substrate for microbial and root activity.
Intensified utilization and management can deprive future forests of large,
fallen trees. The impact of this loss on habitat diversity and on long-term
forest productivity must be determined because managers need sound
information on which to base resource management decisions.
Future forests will contain much less coarse woody debris (CWD), and that
debris will be smaller and of different quality than that seen today. We
have the technology to remove most coarse woody debris from the forest; in
fact, current wood utilization standards encourage such removal (fig. 2.1).
Moreover, converting natural forests to intensively manipulated stands
reduces tree lifespans from centuries to decades; future trees will be much
smaller than they are today, and wood quality will undoubtedly be different
from that of today's forests.
For much more:
Central TX here. 1.5 acres of 5 cleared for house, detached garage, septic
system, and firebreak. Native trees in area are juniper ashe ("mountain
cedar"), live oak, red oak, with a sprinkling of pecan and chinaberry. I
found a juniper ashe that was cut about 5' height. No bark left on it,
about 18" thick at base, unusually large for this tree. Its been dead for
quite some time. There's other juniper ashe shading it with undergrowth
around it. Rabbits have a hole adjacent to the trunk's base. Its
relatively cool and moist in the area around the dead trunk during the long
If you're somewhat curious, research photographs of central TX hill country
before 1900. You will find it barren of trees, except along rivers and
creeks. The juniper ashe has changed that, and allowed other trees to
populate the region natively. Yet, most homeowners cut all the juniper ashe
down, leaving sparse stands of live oaks on their property. Tracts usually
are 5-20 acres. Reasons vary from fire hazard (true), ugly appearance,
shades the live oak to death, steals water runoff.
Juniper ashe is highly tolerant of pruning. I've seen no problem with
cutting all branches to 6' in height on 12' tree. Only do this within
wooded area around the house to allow sight within the area. Allows more
sunlight to the live oaks as well. Thinning the juniper ashe from time to
time is also needed. This allows more water runoff to feed the water table,
this local wells and seasonal creeks. But, at the same time, allows the
juniper ashe to continue its work of breaking up the limestone for eventual
soil creation. The remaining land, I've left nature to do its bidding. I
urge all that live within the central TX hill country to do similar.
Maybe you should check out what these guys did regarding junipers and
what the results are.
"For the past 36 years the 5,500 acre ranch has become one of the largest
habitat restoration projects in the state, winning numerous awards
With the removal of Ashe juniper and the replanting of native grasses, long
absent springs are now constantly flowing.
Most importantly, prior to habitat restoration, there was no surface water
or live creeks on the ranch.
However, once he began removing woody species and replacing them with
native grasses, springs and seeps began to appear. Now we have 27 stock
tanks (or ponds and lakes) and countless springs.
Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve
Bamberger Ranch looks like paradise in God's country. The rugged
landscape is lush with tall grass, and the shaded valleys are filled with
crystal-clear streams. This stretch of the Hill Country about five miles
south of Johnson City wasn't always a shining example of land management.
When J. David Bamberger first visited the plot some 35 years ago, the 3,000
acres were a dry moonscape covered with junipers (cedars). At the beginning
of a Sunday morning tour of the ranch, Bamberger said he was looking for the
least desirable piece of land he could find because it was cheap, and he
wanted the challenge of bringing it back after years of neglect.
Bamberger purchased his first ranch near Bulverde in 1959. Inspired by
Pleasant Valley, a book written by Louis Bromfield and given to him by his
mother, Hester, Bamberger set out to put Bromfield's ideas of habitat
restoration to work.
The remarkable change to the property under Bamberger's stewardship is most
evident at the fence line. On one side the junipers choke out the other
plants. On Bamberger's side of the fence grass is the predominant
vegetation, but the hills are covered with a diversity of plants.
"When we first came here," Bamberger says, "we drilled seven wells to 500
feet and didn't get a drop of water. The first years we saw only 48 species
of birds, now we've counted over 155. The best deer harvested field-dressed
at 55 pounds, now the average is 105 pounds."
Clearing the juniper was the first step of restoring the ranch that has
grown to 5,500 acres.
On the tour of the ranch, Dr. Lew Hunnicutt, a former professor of
agriculture at Southwest Texas State University working at the ranch as the
resident "grass Aggie," explains that the gnarly juniper trees can suck 16
to 20 gallons of water out of the ground a day. On top of that, the leaves
and limbs are very efficient in directing rainfall to its roots, starving
You propose more points than I am able or willing to address. Texas does
have a juniper eradication program which does seem to support the view of
the Bamberger Ranch folks rather than yours regarding the the issue of
juniper, so I'll leave it at that.
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