Researchers: Tree removal could spread invasive grasses

ONTARIO, Ore. (AP) — A recent study by an Oregon State University researcher questions the effectiveness of some juniper removal and suggests it could be contributing to the spread of non-native grass species.

The Argus Observer reports postdoctoral researcher Jacob Dittel, in a story written by Chris Branam, of the Oregon State Extension Service, says his concern is instead of reducing competition to native shrubs and grasses with juniper by cutting it, removal may be swapping competitors by increasing invasive grasses.

Branam wrote the spread of juniper has pushed sagebrush out of rangeland across the Northern Great Basin, as the trees have taken up water to the loss of sagebrush.

Oregon State researchers monitored juniper cutting on the site and the effects on the plant community from 2014 to 2016. Their findings were that invasive grasses were “more predominant in areas where juniper were cut than in non-cut areas.”