Thursday, December 10, 2015


If you are a avid reader of Gassaway's Adventures, you may remember my post last August about the Juniper Trees being cut down in the Hart Mountain Antelope Reserve and I know you've been waiting for the answer as to, why?  For those one or two of you who didn't read the account at the time, this is what I wrote:

I noticed while on the refuge, that some of the Juniper trees were cut down.  Just left there laying on the ground.

Vandals, wood thieves or were they non-native trees or diseased?  So I asked a refuge volunteer who happened to drive into camp, what was up?  He told me that the trees are native, not sick and that they were being cut down to make it like it was 100 years ago in the refuge.  I said, "so you're helping nature".  He didn't like that comment.  I then suggested that if they wanted it to be like 100 years ago,  he should get out of the truck and walk.  I don't think he like that comment either.

It really pissed me off.  How do they know how many trees were there 100 years ago? If more trees have grown naturally, why are they messing with nature and cutting them down?  I'm going to get to the bottom of this and find out who the idiot is who made this decision.  When I find the answer, I'll post his name and address here so you can all tell him what you think. Stay tuned.........

 I sent the following e-mail and have yet to get a response:

On a visit to the refuge I noticed that Juniper trees were being cut down.  I spoke with a volunteer who told me that they were being cut down to make the refuge like it was 100 years ago.  Is this true?  Aren't the Junipers natural to the area?  If they are what possible good could it do to cut them down?  Who made the decision to cut them down?  Unless they are a non native plant overtaking native plants, I can't imagine that you could provide me with a reasonable answer.

I sent a follow up e-mail and again, no response.  I haven't given up, so next will be a phone call.  I'll keep you apprised of any news.

I made several phone calls, leaving messages that were not returned.  I finally spoke with the receptionist and asked her to forward my request to the powers to be.  Finally on October 20th I got an e-mail from Jeff Mackay, the Refuge Manager who provided me with his phone number telling me he would be happy to discuss my query.  So, I called and left several message.  Finally on December 8th, the elusive Jeff Mackay called me. His explanation is as follows:

Image result for sage grouse

First, the trees are not invasive nor are they taking over the refuge.  But, there are Sage Grouse on the preserve and they are close to being listed as an endangered species.  Sage Grouse range all over the west and if listed as an endangered species, many changes would have to be made to private use (grazing) on federal lands.  Why, are they close to being listed?  Well, Sage Grouse live in Sage Brush and that particular plant is in decline due to fires, grazing drought and other forces.  The Sage Brush on the reserve is pretty healthy and there is a good population of the aforementioned bird because of it.  What does all this have to do with the trees, you ask?  As luck or bad luck would have it, Raptors like to eat Sage Grouse.  It is one of their favorite meals and if you ask the Raptor, quite tasty.  You see, Raptors sit in Juniper Trees until they spy a Grouse and then they swoop down and catch the little buggers.  So, no tree, the Raptors have to go somewhere else to eat, like Grandma's chicken coop.  And that, my friends is why the Federal Government is cutting down the trees.  Only new growth trees mind you, not old 100 plus years old trees.  It's kinda like, killing one piece of nature so another part can survive.  We all know the the Feds know what their doing, so no worries.

Image result for raptor bird

Actually Mr. Mackay was very nice and we had quite a long conversation.  You can call him if you like at 541-947-2731.   Oh, I forgot to ask him, what about the Raptors, are they next?


Anonymous said...

You are a trouble maker. I like that. Don M

Julie Camacho said...

Very interesting

Julie Camacho said...

Very interesting

john neibert said...

I'm calling "bullshit" on that one. I think your original instincts were right Dana. The Junipers, Grouse & Raptors are all involved in natural processes and along comes the man from the gubment!
Kind of reminds me of the gubment destruction of the San Juaquin Valley to save a non indigenous Smelt! Ridiculous!

Nick Saraceni said...

You rabble-rouser....always bucking the system. Never content to to let the all seeing and all knowing Government representatives fix what, in their minds needs fixing.

Dibb Family said...

I've gotta cry BS also. While they put together a nice chronology of events, it probably only really makes sense to the Feds and no one else. In some cases, you can't override Mother Nature.