Junipers (Juniperus spp.) are native woody shrubs that have expanded beyond their normal historical ranges in the western and southwestern United States since the late 1800s. Most ecologists and resource managers agree that juniper has become a deleterious native invasive plant that threatens other vegetation ecosystems, such as grasslands, through a steady encroachment and ultimate domination. The use of fire in managing junipers is based on a management goal to increase the disturbance return interval and thereby reduce the abundance and/or competitive impact of juniper in an ecosystem. In this paper, we discuss rates of juniper encroachment in relation to presettlement fire regimes, juniper encroachment and soil health, postfire vegetation responses, and long-term potential of different juniper treatment scenarios that involve prescribed fire.
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Vol. 19 • No. 3