The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is joining forces with a group of other partners to remove select juniper trees across more than 617,000 acres in southwestern Idaho. The Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-grouse Habitat (BOSH) Project is designed to greatly enhance sagebrush habitat for sage-grouse, antelope, elk and other wildlife and plant species as well as livestock grazing.
Western juniper is native to southwest Idaho, but its occurrence is normally scattered. In recent decades, juniper escalated its spread and competes with sage-steppe vegetation for water, nutrients, space, and sunlight, while also altering the natural wildfire cycle. Wildfire is a primary threat to sage-grouse habitat. The Bureau of Land Management will cut selected juniper trees encroaching into the sagebrush and grasslands, focusing on areas around sage-grouse leks and the corridors between them.
The project involves contract crews cutting down juniper trees, and then cutting the branches on the downed trees so that no branches stand more than four feet above the ground. This reduces potential impacts to sage-grouse by preventing the downed trees from acting as perches for predatory birds. Timing restrictions are used to minimize impacts to sage-grouse and other wildlife species.
RMEF is providing funding for the project. Other partners include the Boise District BLM, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Department of Lands and the Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation.
Since 1984, RMEF and its partners protected or enhanced more than 7.5 million acres of wildlife habitat.
(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)