West Multnomah SWCD Forest Conservationist Michael Ahr works with local woodland owners, some of whom find it challenging to find a market for small trees that are cut during thinning projects. Build Local Alliance, a partner organization, will assist in this process. Recently, Michael built an 8’ x 4’ raised bed in his backyard out of restoration juniper which is rot resistant. The wood was milled by “In the Sticks” sawmill in Hines, Oregon and then shipped to a local provider who sells it to Portland homeowners.
Across much of eastern Oregon, juniper encroachment is a problem to native ecosystems. After years of fire suppression, the tree is much more abundant, and uses a great deal of the scarce soil moisture on our vast range lands. The situation can damage sage grouse (a candidate for the Endangered Species List) habitat by degrading the local sagebrush resource. Juniper is often cut, but then left on the ground to decompose since there is not a strong market for the wood. In the Sticks Sawmill mills juniper that comes almost exclusively from these restoration projects while creating a small market to pay for the restoration.