Western Watersheds Project saves giant junipers on remote Nevada Mountain from chaining

Story in Sun Valley on-line.

WWP keeps on beating the BLM. This time it was on remote Spruce Mountain of north central Nevada.

Chaining junipers is claimed to be a way of restoring grasslands where junipers have invaded and shaded out the grass. Of course, if the junipers are very large the notion of invasion is nonsense.

Besides the immediate ugliness of chaining, the end result is often not native grasses, but rather flammable cheatgrass invasion.

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Today. Oct. 23. The Elko (NV) Daily Free Press has a longer story on the TRO on Spruce Mountain.

The BLM would have us believe that the objections of WWP are simply about a species (junipers) that is excessively abundant in Nevada. However, where junipers are invading (expanding their range), the trees are small, or at least much smaller. Because ancient juniper are not some threatened species doesn’t mean they should be chained. Moreover, this isn’t solid juniper, is is also broken by sagebrush (valuable winter forage for deer) and pinyon pine.

The experience of WWP is that these projects are often also portrayed as beneficial for deer or elk, but instead they become mudholes for cattle who more than make up for any new grass that grows where the junipers and pines stood. This is especially true when a water pipeline brings the cows into an area that would otherwise see only sporadic grazing. Can you imagine a 90-mile water pipeline for Nevada grazing? Somebody must have a lot of political pull.

The BLM’s argument that they are reducing the danger of catastrophic fire is a canard, an appeal to people who have no idea how far away from any town in this nearly empty landscape Spruce Mountain is. Look at the the area on TopoZone.




  1. brian Avatar

    This project needed to be stopped! Chaining is an egregiously disruptive “treatment”. Think of two tractors driving parallel dragging a giant chain which uproots everything in its path. That’s a giant weed-bed and devestated ecosystem. Soil structure, wildlife habitat, 200 – 400 year old trees, etc. All to stuff the budgets of the good ol’ boy BLM of northern Nevada and the pockets of the livestock kingpins who call their orders. Taxpayers and our public lands deserve better.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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