Juniper results are in

Posted by Renee Magyar on April 11, 2018

Oregon State University Wood Innovation Center releases results from Western Juniper testing

Researcher Byrne Minamoto testing a juniper block at OSU Wood Innovation Center. Photo by OSU.

We are excited to share that OSU has published results of extensive properties testing of Western Juniper, a tree species native to the West that is overtaking sagebrush and rangelands. Beginning in 2015, with funding help from Sustainable Northwest, the OSU Wood Innovation Center undertook extensive mechanical and design testing of the wood for inclusion of the species in the National Design Specification for Wood Construction, the standard guide for designers and wood procurers.

The results of this study lend credibility to juniper, putting it on par with other wood species on the market. Until now, usage of the wood has been limited to certain commercial or private applications. Despite its naturally rot resistant properties, it was not an option for public procurement for products like Oregon Department of Transportation sign posts or guard-rail blocks, because its mechanical properties were unknown. Juniper is now an approved and eligible material for use in both private and public projects across its entire range in Oregon, Idaho, and California.

In 1900 in Oregon, this thirsty tree covered around 1.5 million acres. Due to past forest management practices, it has expanded to nearly 10 million acres today. Efforts are underway to restore grasslands in the Northwest by selectively removing juniper trees. Harvest and milling of juniper is expensive and labor intensive and a reliable market for the wood must be in place to sustain restoration projects.

We are optimistic that listing in the Design Specifications publication will open new market opportunities and be a boost for rural economies across the West.

Read about this on OSU’s website: New standards for western juniper wood boost market potential for invasive tree.