The decline of sage grouse and mule deer numbers can be contributed to habitat lost from pinyon juniper encroachment. In a press release from SBWIRE May 8, Gary  Barnett announced that he has a plan to start restoring this habitat, as well as create jobs for our residents in the process.

Pinyon Juniper is named a big factor in the habitat loss for the last 140 years, due to fire suppression. Without fire, the release stated, “it is spreading into sage brush flats and growing into a closed crown,” which suffocates the vegetation and makes it unsuitable as a habitat for animals.

Three methods currently treat the overgrowth of Pinyon Juniper: mastication, chaining and Lop-and-Scatter. The treatments can be costly and do not maximize the potential use from Pinyon Juniper.

In the past six years, Barnett has resolved this dilemma, creating a plan to, “utilize the entire tree into different products,” the release said.

Some of the products include firewood, fence posts, bundled wood and chimnea wood. However, additional products are envisioned for this summer, including pellets, bio char, bio oil, and eventually, the ability to generate electricity. The release states that, “Utilization is the key to driving down the cost of treatments and restoring habitat at a landscape level.”

Part of the profits Barnett will make will be donated to reseeding areas he has harvested, and put in water catchers as well as other habitat improvements for wildlife. The overall concept will be to restore, “a couple thousand acres of habitat each year and employing 50 to 100 people full time.”

Barnett is raising funds for a target goal of $100,000 to help buy a 12-cord capacity commercial firewood kiln.