PRINEVILLE, OR -- Juniper is pesky east of the Cascade Range. It sucks up precious water, takes over grasslands, contributes to erosion and depletes sage grouse habitat. Historically, wildfire kept junipers in check, but with fires suppressed, they've spread to millions of acres. But, the Bend Bulletin reports, juniper is hardy wood, and there's growing interest in overcoming the difficulties of milling it. A recent tour drew about 50 public officials, environmental nonprofit leaders, students and building industry representatives to examine the possibilities for using juniper. There are at least five juniper mills in Oregon, mostly one-person operations with portable mills.
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