Juniper Invasion Threatens Grasslands
The spread of eastern redcedar trees reduces grass growth on pastures and ranges across the state. Nebraska’s Dirac Twidwell is studying how the invasion is impacting wildlife, water availability, beef production and school funding.
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[00:00:00.000]I'm part of a group of scientists that have studied
[00:00:02.591]tree invasions coming into grasslands for decades.
[00:00:05.394]Every state has shown the same thing,
[00:00:07.097]when you go from a grassland
[00:00:09.221]to a closed canopy juniper woodland,
[00:00:11.320]and it doesn't stop.
[00:00:12.222]It just slowly eats away at it.
[00:00:14.323]You're talking about a loss of 75%
[00:00:16.645]of livestock production on those lands.
[00:00:19.851]And it's basically because very little grass
[00:00:21.809]grows underneath juniper trees.
[00:00:24.030]Grasslands are one of the
[00:00:25.611]largest vegetation types historically.
[00:00:28.083]A lot of people know about
[00:00:29.479]deforestation in tropical rainforests,
[00:00:32.095]but very few know about what the biggest
[00:00:33.949]threats are here in our own backyard.
[00:00:36.774]What we've identified is that,
[00:00:38.511]our scientific recommendations that go all the way back
[00:00:41.417]to the 1950s,
[00:00:42.572]we've actually mis-identified some of our best practices.
[00:00:46.298]The first thing that we now know today,
[00:00:48.660]is that you have to manage the seed.
[00:00:50.859]It's kinda like having a dandelion problem
[00:00:52.396]if you're in the city.
[00:00:53.425]If your neighbor has that problem,
[00:00:54.969]you're going to have it.
[00:00:56.692]No state, no region has ever decided
[00:00:58.542]they're actually going to manage the seed.
[00:01:01.391]If you don't do that,
[00:01:02.740]your expenses go up right away.
[00:01:05.622]A common question we get is,
[00:01:06.716]why don't we just take the trees out.
[00:01:09.405]And the biggest challenge
[00:01:12.473]with doing that is that
[00:01:13.973]our current management didn't have that legacy
[00:01:17.557]of trees before.
[00:01:19.003]So you're talking about asking people to reduce
[00:01:21.115]their profit margin.
[00:01:22.423]It costs time and money to manage it.
[00:01:24.944]So what they do is, they wait,
[00:01:26.423]because it's going to impact their profits.
[00:01:28.876]Well the more they wait,
[00:01:30.525]the more that we're having a problem
[00:01:31.941]getting ready to happen.
[00:01:34.141]The impacts of this research,
[00:01:36.147]we've connected to every segment of society.
[00:01:39.906]We know that this is going to have a huge impact
[00:01:41.985]on the opportunities of the beef industry.
[00:01:44.408]We're talking about estimates of billions of dollars at risk
[00:01:48.537]with the kind of economic outputs we're seeing.
[00:01:51.280]But if you don't like beef,
[00:01:52.272]maybe you care about wildlife.
[00:01:54.405]Our wildlife are endemic to grasslands.
[00:01:56.109]We know this will cause endangered species to go up.
[00:01:58.648]If you don't care about wildlife,
[00:02:00.253]you might care about water.
[00:02:01.843]You might care about wildfire protection.
[00:02:04.180]You might care about funding
[00:02:05.666]going to our public schools,
[00:02:07.347]because we actually get profits from grazing lands
[00:02:10.630]that go directly to fund kids education.
[00:02:14.363]It's very rare for a plant
[00:02:15.772]to hit that many aspects of society.
[00:02:18.395]That's why, this is, we think
[00:02:19.483]is such a important impactful issue
[00:02:22.874]that goes way beyond how most plants that are
[00:02:24.996]invading into the system.
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