Published: March 16, 2015

Ecosystems dominated by species of piñon and juniper, a spatially extensive vegetation type in the United States, are among the most predominant vegetation types administered by U.S. land management agencies. That means, among other things, that millions of acres of piñon-juniper woodlands have been subjected to numerous land-management techniques since 1950, including various methods of tree removal.

The long-term consequences of those actions are still poorly understood, but Miranda Redmond, a doctoral student in the Dr. Nichole Barger Lab, has been working hard to change that.

Redmond has been the lead author on several papers examining the precipitous decline of piñon-nut production and the effects of vegetation management on Bureau of Land Management lands, including the effects of burning, chaining and “mastication” to remove woody plants in an effort to increase grasses for grazing livestock, restore wildlife habitat, and reduce the risk of wildland fires.

“We use our national lands pretty heavily. We enjoy them and the services they provide" - everything from recreation to livestock grazing to water management—“and it’s important to know how to effectively manage them for both the increased resilience of ecosystems in the future and to maintain them today.”  You can read the rest of this interview in this week’s issue of the Arts and Sciences Magazine.