Quantifying pinyon-juniper reduction within North America’s sagebrush ecosystem

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This study applied a remote sensing change detection approach to map reductions in pinyon-juniper cover across the sage-grouse range and developed a method for rapidly updating maps of canopy cover. We found total conifer reduction over the past several years (2011−2013 to 2015−2017) amounted to 1.6% of the area supporting tree cover within our study area, which is likely just keeping pace with estimates of expansion. Two-thirds of conifer reduction was attributed to active management (1.04% of the treed area) while wildfire accounted for one-third of all estimated conifer reduction in the region (0.56% of the treed area). Results also illustrate the breadth of this management effort—crossing ownership, agency, and state boundaries.

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