The Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program and the Colorado Office of the Bureau of Land Management have formed a multi-year partnership to identify forest products and marketing opportunities for piñon-juniper utilization in Colorado.

Project Overview

Research scientists and staff of the Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program (CoWood) are working with the Colorado Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to assist natural resource managers, contractors and businesses in identifying ways to enhance the ecological and economic opportunities affiliated with piñon-juniper utilization and management on Colorado BLM lands.

Many of Colorado’s forests have received significant attention regarding hazardous fuels, forest health and wood utilization opportunities; however, comparatively less attention has been paid to investigating the potential economic value of wood products from Colorado’s piñon-juniper forests.

As is the case with other forest types in Colorado, experts are concerned about the health of piñon-juniper forests, which face increasing threats from wildfire, competition among other forest types and rangeland, public access and recreation. Active forest management in piñon-juniper systems will contribute to the health and resiliency of these forest communities and enhance effective wood utilization.

History

piñon-juniper utilization CoWood

In the early 1990s, the Western Juniper Commercialization Project was established by land management agencies, local industry and economic development organizations in eastern Oregon and northeastern California that focused on western juniper utilization opportunities. Viewed as a nontraditional and noncommercial (“weed”) species by some resource managers and industry, a focused effort to identify and document supply, harvesting, product, and market opportunities began over a ten-year period. The Western Juniper Commercialization Project continues to portray itself as “one-stop shop” for resource managers, industry and the public. To date the Western Juniper Commercialization Project lists a seven-fold increase in the number of businesses that manufacture and market western juniper products. In addition, annual volumes of western juniper products being produced increased from 15 million board feet (mbf)/year before the project to more than 120 mbf/year.

The Piñon-Juniper Commercialization Project is designed to replicate the achievements of the Western Juniper Commercialization Project and build on the findings from the three-year effort (2003-2008) Beyond Firewood and Fenceposts, which established qualitative insights on commercial product and market opportunities for piñon-juniper utilization in Colorado. Fundamental material performance, harvesting and market questions remain to be answered in order to attract the necessary harvesting, manufacturing and marketing infrastructure to offset treatment costs and identifying and providing BLM resource managers with utilization opportunities.