Cedars?

matto

New member
Thought maybe a new topic was in order. Not intending to criticize fsentkilr or his project in any way. If people have seen birds respond to cedar plantings, I'd like to hear about it.

Yes, I've seen birds in and around cedars when there's snow on the ground. We've all probably seen pictures from North Dakota of hundreds of birds clustered in multi-row shelterbelts that include cedars--during their long and brutal winters. But I thought that current "wisdom" was that cedars' thirst for water and propensity to spread and take over lead most biologists to recommend against planting them.

Further, the PF biologist I once worked with strongly suggested that I get rid of the half dozen or so that were growing on some of our ground. He didn't present it as a "right now, this is an emergency" issue, but more like a "they do more harm than good, they'll spread if you let them, and they're easy to get rid of" issue. But this wasn't Ness county--this was southeast of there.

Do others think they do more good than harm? Everything is local, so maybe in some parts of Kansas with more frequent severe weather and less moisture (making the cedars less able to take over) that could be.
 

Prairie Drifter

Active member
Timely question Matto! The latest PF magazine that came last week has an article "create the ultimate back 40 for pheasants" that addresses this very topic. They state that the most recent research indicates that the importance of woody cover has been overestimated previously. I have also read a lot of research that indicates that having cedars out in your nesting habitat allows mesopredators like coons, skunks, and possums to day-bed in the nesting habitat, making them more efficient nest predators. You can add in more negatives, like the fact that they either use or intercept most precipitation and the competition that exerts on the forage plants in your grassland. Further, they do invade grasslands are an ever increasing rate, and we have proven to be slow to react to that encroachment, often waiting until their removal requires more than a maintenance fire, leading to higher costs. If you also look at the increased fire danger to residences and the significant pollen allergens they put out, it is hard to find a good reason to plant them in or near grasslands. It is important to also note that there is a point where both pheasants and whitetails will abandon dense stands of cedars because they no longer provide much more than concealment.
 

fsentkilr

New member
The main reason cedars take over grassland is overgrazing. If the pastures aren't overgrazed and prescribed burns are used they are easy to control. I have two half mile windbreaks on some ground in Finney county. There are more birds on that place than any around by far. In one wind break the last day of season we scared 5 coveys of quail and 30 to 40 pheasants out of one wind break. They don't use that much water, and are very shallow rooted. They take dry weather better than a lot of other trees. I have two rows of red cedars and two rows of plums in FInney. The cedars are doing reallly well, the plums are hardly growing at all. The deer and rabbits pretty much are destroying them. In South Dakota and North Dakota a lot of the birds wouldn't make it through the winter if not for the cedar windbreaks. It's the same way in really bad winters in western Kansas. A friend of mine has a big cedar windbreak by his house. Sometimes all the birds with in a mile are in that windbreak. The only way we can shoot any birds around there is hunt the windbreak and scare them out of it. Of course you don't want them taking over the cover, but that is the same as any trees. With fire Cedars are much easier to control than say hedge, or really any trees for that matter, You can burn a cedar tree, others not so much. Also if you cut off a cedar at ground level it won't grow back, unlike other trees. As far as what Pheasants Forever says I really don't care. I know what I have personally seen in 40 years of hunting and farming, and that' enough for me.
 
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KsHusker

New member
The main reason cedars take over grassland is overgrazing. If the pastures aren't overgrazed and prescribed burns are used they are easy to control. I have two half mile windbreaks on some ground in Finney county. There are more birds on that place than any around by far. In one wind break the last day of season we scared 5 coveys of quail and 30 to 40 pheasants out of one wind break. They don't use that much water, and are very shallow rooted. They take dry weather better than a lot of other trees. I have two rows of red cedars and two rows of plums in FInney. The cedars are doing reallly well, the plums are hardly growing at all. The deer and rabbits pretty much are destroying them. In South Dakota and North Dakota a lot of the birds wouldn't make it through the winter if not for the cedar windbreaks. It's the same way in really bad winters in western Kansas. A friend of mine has a big cedar windbreak by his house. Sometimes all the birds with in a mile are in that windbreak. The only way we can shoot any birds around there is hunt the windbreak and scare them out of it. Of course you don't want them taking over the cover, but that is the same as any trees. With fire Cedars are much easier to control than say hedge, or really any trees for that matter, You can burn a cedar tree, others not so much. Also if you cut off a cedar at ground level it won't grow back, unlike other trees. As far as what Pheasants Forever says I really don't care. I know what I have personally seen in 40 years of hunting and farming, and that' enough for me.

I think what Matto said is all relative to location - the 2 counties you are talking about are pretty desert like and not very conducive to the spread of cedars. Go to counties that receive typically more precipitation (Where Troy lives, NC KS, Edwards, Pratt, etc - IMO I do not think they are a good idea) As far as the trees sucking up water - they do suck up loads of water - in areas such as SC/SW Ks where the prairie fire went through and they've went on a cedar removal spree - you can see plenty of examples where springs/waterways started flowing water again where it was once dry - a buddy of mine works for several large landowners as a property manager - he's been on a cedar removal spree (but in the areas around Pratt/Kiowa/Edwards etc) and I've seen personally where ground water came back after he removed them and the grasslands/plum thickets started to regenerate and low and behold pheasants/quail pops improved on the same properties once proper prescribed burns, tree removal and proper grazing were in practice again. Funny thing is no doubt it will increase the landowners bottom line with better grass for the cattle.

Definitely agree Mike where you are at - they pose little risk - other areas of the state they are an absolute scourge - I'd love nothing more than to have a $150k tree removal rig and be set free on NE ks - I hate the fact it has become a forest --- Parts around Saline & Lincoln county worry me A LOT - I love to hunt around there and love finding prairie chickens there - folks have been letting cedars go the past 10 years and in another 10 some areas will look like NE KS if folks do not manage their property - In parts of the state they should be considered an environmental scourge and everything should be done to get rid of them.
 
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Prairie Drifter

Active member
I have a poster in my office from the Oklahoma Conservation Commission that is dated 2003. At that time redcedars were costing Oklahoma $218 million a year in los of cattle forage, wildlife habitat, recreation, and water yield. Their prediction was that this economic loss would increase to $447 million by 2013 if steps were not taken to control the spread. Over 300,000 acres of eastern redcedar and other juniper infestations were needing to be controlled each year just to break even with the current rate of increase in the number of trees. The invasion is more prominent on coarse soils. They find voids from overgrazing, yes, but also sprout in the protection of the center of shrub thickets where the fire doesn't reach. The association of the decline in pheasants with the cedar removal in CRP was a result of the fact that the grass in that CRP had choked out the forbs and no longer provided the brood-rearing habitat that it had in it's first few years of growth. The cedars were an indicator of the CRP getting too rank and needing fire.
 

fsentkilr

New member
If cedars or any other trees are taking over a pasture it's because of poor management period. How many cedars have been planted on state manged wildlife areas? How many pheasants do you think have been shot out of them over the years? I have been to Glen Elder on windy days when the cedar rows were full of pheasants shooting limits in them. Also they haven't spread and taken over the area because they are managed.
 

fsentkilr

New member
think what Matto said is all relative to location - the 2 counties you are talking about are pretty desert like and not very conducive to the spread of cedars.





How about where I live in Anderson County? We get as much precipitation as any in the state. The only pastures taken over with cedars around here are the ones that aren't managed. Also there are more taken over by hedge, elm and other trees than cedars. Blackberries are a lot worse than cedars here because fire does little to control them. Another point, look where the wildfires were at, there aren't any cedars now they are gone. Some people also just don't care if trees take over. Deer and turkey hunters will pay more here for overgrown pastures than they will good maintained grass. Also deer lease money approaches what grass rent will bring.
 
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Toad

New member
In NE Kansas, if it isn't cedars, it's honeysuckle. With no safe place to burn, I am hauling off multiple trailer loads of both each Spring, yet it feels like I am still losing ground.

Wildlife does seem to utilize them though. I've seen migrating flocks of songbirds get in them shoulder-to-shoulder. I don't know how many thousands of robins we had on our 2-acre home place one day... And they seem to be fairly popular for nesting birds and squirrels.

So I wouldn't say they're evil or anything, just difficult to keep them under control.
 

Kansan

New member
I would say they can definitely be beneficial to wildlife if they’re properly managed. We’re getting ready to plant a 500 yard row of cedars on a property of ours south of Independence. Primarily to keep folks driving on the gravel road from seeing our duck ponds, but it will provide some good cover as well.
 

Prairie Drifter

Active member
As Toad indicated, having cedars anywhere is good for woodland birds. The problem is that native grasslands are the most endangered habitat type on the planet and cedars work against most prairie obligate species like bobwhite, dickcissel, savannah sparrows, and many, many more. Yes, for pheasant management, the further west and north that you go, the more important they are for survival in blizzard and sub-zero weather. Where you have prairie, you are probably better off selecting Oriental Arborvitae over cedars to reduce the possibility or eventuality of spread.
 

remy3424

Member
I went to the posted NCRS link back a couple replys, searched for red cedars and they talk about planiting just the male plants to avoiding the volunteer seeding of them. Maybe try this where you have sensitve land that can't be burned to control them. In the row crop terrain I live in, a windbreak/shelter belt of red cears won't result in many volunteers, except maybe in the road ditches near by. Some good stands of conifers are needed when there are few trees for the birds to shelter in when we get the blizzard condtions that can eliminate all birds that can't get to shelter belts/windbreaks. I have planted many road ditch variety of red cedars around the prerimeter of nesting cover. In my option, they are useful in pheasant habitat, but left unmanaged I can see them destroying nesting cover for sure.
 

KsHusker

New member
As Toad indicated, having cedars anywhere is good for woodland birds. The problem is that native grasslands are the most endangered habitat type on the planet and cedars work against most prairie obligate species like bobwhite, dickcissel, savannah sparrows, and many, many more. Yes, for pheasant management, the further west and north that you go, the more important they are for survival in blizzard and sub-zero weather. Where you have prairie, you are probably better off selecting Oriental Arborvitae over cedars to reduce the possibility or eventuality of spread.


My hatred of cedars and other trees in KS is because of the bolded statement. My dad and I took a hunting trip (well more like a sight seeing trip as we didnt run into much and had 2 dogs end up hurt) to NW Oklahoma and drove through where the wildlife burned in 2017 or 2016 or so - a lot of cedars/trees wiped out and good looking grassland but there's still 10ks of thousands of acres not being managed and will turn into a forest again --- From my understanding if the native seedbank goes on for maybe 20 years or so without an opportunity to flourish it can be gone for good even if say 30 years later you get rid of the trees. It's just a crying shame that there aren't more economic incentives to preserve this habitat which IMO would be economically beneficial for ranchers/ag producers to do so.

I've taken a keen interest on the subject of plains history say mid 1800s on when the plains were being settled and the conflicts with the natives at the time - Right now reading a book titled "Son of the Morning Star" -- about 500 or so pages long but details Custer and his last stand - but takes a LOT of sidebars to detail Custer's reports on what the plains were like and other military or historical figures at the time reported seeing - it is a crying shame what America has let happen to the prairie - we'd never get back the eco-diversity from the 1800s time period but in places we could get part of it back if folks gave a darn and stopped doing things a certain way because Grandpa and my neighbors do it this way or simply due to laziness or misguided thoughts on deer management/horn greed.


NE ks has all but screwed itself from Junction City east and quickly the Smokey hills will follow behind if they do not keep the trees in check, specifically the cedars - it'd also be nice if they'd stop putting up the damn windmills. I just do not understand for the life of me some of the thoughts of more "modern" ways of so called "ag production" -- "Modern" ways is what back in the day caused the dust bowl and "Modern" ways is what will destroy what's left of the prairie if it's not managed for the long view instead of the short view everyone tends to take. The long view IMO is well past one's own lifetime - folks IMO are mostly concerned with what's good for me now. I dont know how old everyone is on here but we are starting to see the Ogallala aquifer become depleted -- I'm not sure how much longer it will take to ruin that resource in the name of corn but I'm making an educated guess my son will see a huge transformation - I've witnessed quite the transformation since living in/becoming acquainted with SW KS in 2004-5 when I lived in Holcomb and the years since when I've hunted there. No one will talk about how the State of KS and Sunflower/Wheatland Electric namely by their decisions Raped 30 square miles of sand sage habitat. I've brought it up many times on here, maybe someone else will look into it.


If any of you are on FB - there's a guy on there called Red Hills Rancher that puts out quite a bit of content on managing farmland/ranchland (Believe he's an active land manager for a large rancher around Medicine Lodge somewhere) -- anyways - good guy to follow and lots of good info on things that are being done or that folks can do to manage their properties with profit and sustainability in mind. Lots of info on cedar eradication and how it's helped pastures he's been working in.
 
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westksbowhunter

Active member
My hatred of cedars and other trees in KS is because of the bolded statement. My dad and I took a hunting trip (well more like a sight seeing trip as we didnt run into much and had 2 dogs end up hurt) to NW Oklahoma and drove through where the wildlife burned in 2017 or 2016 or so - a lot of cedars/trees wiped out and good looking grassland but there's still 10ks of thousands of acres not being managed and will turn into a forest again --- From my understanding if the native seedbank goes on for maybe 20 years or so without an opportunity to flourish it can be gone for good even if say 30 years later you get rid of the trees. It's just a crying shame that there aren't more economic incentives to preserve this habitat which IMO would be economically beneficial for ranchers/ag producers to do so.

I've taken a keen interest on the subject of plains history say mid 1800s on when the plains were being settled and the conflicts with the natives at the time - Right now reading a book titled "Son of the Morning Star" -- about 500 or so pages long but details Custer and his last stand - but takes a LOT of sidebars to detail Custer's reports on what the plains were like and other military or historical figures at the time reported seeing - it is a crying shame what America has let happen to the prairie - we'd never get back the eco-diversity from the 1800s time period but in places we could get part of it back if folks gave a darn and stopped doing things a certain way because Grandpa and my neighbors do it this way or simply due to laziness or misguided thoughts on deer management/horn greed.


NE ks has all but screwed itself from Junction City east and quickly the Smokey hills will follow behind if they do not keep the trees in check, specifically the cedars - it'd also be nice if they'd stop putting up the damn windmills. I just do not understand for the life of me some of the thoughts of more "modern" ways of so called "ag production" -- "Modern" ways is what back in the day caused the dust bowl and "Modern" ways is what will destroy what's left of the prairie if it's not managed for the long view instead of the short view everyone tends to take. The long view IMO is well past one's own lifetime - folks IMO are mostly concerned with what's good for me now. I dont know how old everyone is on here but we are starting to see the Ogallala aquifer become depleted -- I'm not sure how much longer it will take to ruin that resource in the name of corn but I'm making an educated guess my son will see a huge transformation - I've witnessed quite the transformation since living in/becoming acquainted with SW KS in 2004-5 when I lived in Holcomb and the years since when I've hunted there. No one will talk about how the State of KS and Sunflower/Wheatland Electric namely by their decisions Raped 30 square miles of sand sage habitat. I've brought it up many times on here, maybe someone else will look into it.


If any of you are on FB - there's a guy on there called Red Hills Rancher that puts out quite a bit of content on managing farmland/ranchland (Believe he's an active land manager for a large rancher around Medicine Lodge somewhere) -- anyways - good guy to follow and lots of good info on things that are being done or that folks can do to manage their properties with profit and sustainability in mind. Lots of info on cedar eradication and how it's helped pastures he's been working in.
Sounds like your hatred is of management practices, not tree's. Human's will eventually ruin everything.
 

s.davis

Member
I don’t buy for a second that it takes cedars to have pheasants, and the science backs me up. That said, if it did, I’d choose good prairie over pheasant populations any day. One of the 2 belongs here, the other is just a dying hobby for people like me.
 

V-John

New member
While I dont think that Manhattan will burn to the ground, there are lots of good points made about cedars. As I was running dogs and looking for a dog who had made a 1mile cast, I walked through some pastures that are in big trouble and this topic came to mind. Took some pictures... Its a damn shame they are some beautiful pastures.

Edit - My apologies for the size of the pictures on the thread. Im not sure how to post them as thumbnails.
 
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fsentkilr

New member
Again I will say it one ore time than I am done. The pictures above is due to poor management it's not the cedars fault. You guys do know that cedars are native to Kansas right? There is a reason they are taking over pastures now and not 150 years ago. The Kansas Forest Service offers them online at a reduced cost for windbreaks for a reason.
 
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V-John

New member
Again I will say it one ore time than I am done. The pictures above is do to poor management it's not the cedars fault. You guys do know that cedars are native to Kansas right? There is a reason they are taking over pastures now and not 150 years ago. The Kansas Forest Service offers them online at a reduced cost for windbreaks for a reason.
I'm not sure anyone is 'blaming' cedars. I just posted a picture of a couple pastures that were going to be taken over by cedars. And absolutely agree, that is poor management. Do you think that pastures were better managed 150 years ago as opposed to today?

Side note. Do cedars care if they are being blamed on an internet message board? :)
 

Thatguy

New member
Again I will say it one ore time than I am done. The pictures above is do to poor management it's not the cedars fault. You guys do know that cedars are native to Kansas right? There is a reason they are taking over pastures now and not 150 years ago. The Kansas Forest Service offers them online at a reduced cost for windbreaks for a reason.
They are native but historically very few existed. Mostly on seeps on north facing hillsides where fire couldnt get them. They didnt really start offerring them until the dustbowl when the buffalo grass was gone due to tillage and nothing held the soil.. The govt also planted salt cedar and sericea lespedeza and we all know how that has turned out.
 
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