Mountain Cedars: the Limestone Junipers of Texas
Mountain Cedars are juniper trees that prefer the limestone bedrock and shallow soils of Texas karst country. For almost 100 years we've been taught that as these trees spread, they reduce spring flows, cause erosion, degrade the soil, and inhibit the growth of other plants. However, much of this data was acquired only through above ground observations. Now that research has dug down to explore what's happening under our feet, we have learned the trees are acting as ecosystem engineers to help regenerate degraded Texas karst country.
Improving How We Manage Texas Karst Country
Explain the need to change how we manage Texas karst country. For almost 100 years our approach to land management in this region has been akin to tactical warfare. Although such an approach can provide short-term fixes, the results don't last and do not lead to more resilient, more productive, and longer-lasting results. Since karst country soils are very shallow and take much longer to rebuild, it is imperative to turn our focus away from woody brush, mostly mountain cedars, since they are part of the solution, not the cause of our problems. We should instead focus on regenerating soil health using nature-based solutions.