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Grassroots approach to conservation developed
Date:7/10/2012

hese new practices to the larger community. "They go down to the coffee shop and meet their neighbors and friends and tell them about the success they're having with the new practices to control the juniper trees and tall fescue and how well their cattle are doing on these pastures. The neighbors start to pick up on this, and then we have the whole process repeat itself with a larger group of landowners.

"If we're successful with this, we'll start to see changes, not just on individual properties here and there for key landowners but over the whole landscape or the whole region," he said.

According to Miller, the fastest-growing group of landowners in the area is non-traditional. They don't live in the region or come from a farming background, but they instead buy land to hunt deer, turkey, quail, or maybe just to birdwatch. He said that on land with intensive cattle grazing, the cedars can be kept at bay.

"Without burning or grazing, the cedars will take over," Miller said. "Trees seem like a good thing to wildlife enthusiasts, but they don't see that their land will go from being an open grassland to a closed-canopy cedar stand in 20 to 25 years. Under those conditions, there are no deer, no turkey, no quail it's a biological desert, and it's too late to do much with it. We think we can make the most inroads with the non-traditional owners."

Juniper trees are invasive, largely due to fire suppression. Junipers are a fire-intolerant, woody plant. This particular species of juniper is also called eastern redcedar.

Although that may sound appealing for patio furniture or decking or biofuels, it's not. Miller said there's no market for this type of tree. The trees produce a prodigious seed rain that facilitates rapid colonization of an area when left unchecked. With a survey from aerial photography dating back to 1983, Miller estimated a 3 percent increase in cedar coverage per year.

Tall fescue, an exotic in
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Contact: Debra Levey Larson
dlarson@illinois.edu
271-244-2880
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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