Sponsored by Lane Powell

The juniper solution

| Print |  Email
Articles - September 2012
Monday, August 27, 2012

BY LINDA BAKER

0912 GamePlan HarvestingJuniper
LaBrecque talks to Harney County commissioner Dan Nichols while harvesting juniper just north of Burns.
// Photo by Peter Dalke

Oregon’s Western Juniper gets a bad rap. Although it’s a native species, juniper forests have spread uncontrollably in the central and eastern parts of the state, threatening sage grouse habitat and sucking the water table dry. In the 1930s, Oregon had about 1.5 million acres of juniper forests. Today it’s at more than 6.5 million.

Enter Gerard Joseph LaBrecque, a 62-year-old Burns resident who had been using juniper in his heirloom furniture business, Creations by Joseph, since the mid-1990s. When public agencies stepped up efforts to combat the invasive tree — and when the housing collapse eroded the furniture market — LaBrecque saw an opportunity to diversify and restore juniper’s good name. In 2010 he applied for funding through Harney County’s Title III program, bought a custom-built portable mill for $28,000 and in, May 2011, launched Joseph’s Juniper, a juniper reclamation and lumber business.

LaBrecque goes into the woods, cuts down the juniper, then mills a wide variety of materials on site, producing everything from firewood to lumber suitable for landscaping, fencing and decking. Last year he processed 800 acres of juniper and grossed about $300,000. He employs five people and says he could use five more. “Production needs to be up because demand is getting stronger and stronger by the week, by the year.”

LaBrecque, whose customers include Sustainable Northwest Wood in Portland and Parr Lumber in Burns, says his products appeal to people who want an organic alternative to chemically treated railroad ties and posts typically used in landscaping projects. Juniper is also known for its natural rot resistance. There are other reasons Joseph’s Juniper is growing: The USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service gives money to private ranchers to eliminate juniper, who then subcontract with LaBrecque. And in August, Oregon Solutions, a statewide group focused on sustainable community solutions, created a team focused on the industry potential of the reclaimed wood.

Juniper is often considered “public enemy No. 1,” LeBrecque says. “Here I am, making a living out of it.”

 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 Love juniperGuest 2012-09-01 19:12:41
Juniper wood is just beautiful! I've seen Gerard's work and he can do amazing things with the wood. But juniper is also great for fence posts -- it's not chemically treated and lasts longer than most treated posts. Wonderful for organic gardens and farms!
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #2 Pictures please!Guest 2012-09-12 18:28:14
Would love to see some pictures of the juniper furniture!
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #3 EditorGuest 2012-09-12 18:31:10
Go here for pictures:
http://www.westernjuniper.org/furn.php
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Stemming the tide of money in politics

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
 jeff-lang-2012-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy.  “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”


Read more...

Reader Input: Fair Play

May 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.


Read more...

Staffing Challenge

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Greg Lambert, president of Mid Oregon Personnel Services.


Read more...

Oregon needs a Grand Bargain energy plan

Linda Baker
Monday, June 22, 2015
0622-gastaxblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Clean Fuels/gas tax trade off will go down in history as another disjointed, on-again off-again approach to city and state lawmaking.


Read more...

Downtime with Debra Ringold

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University


Read more...

5 stats about Oregon fireworks

The Latest
Thursday, June 18, 2015
fireworksthumb001BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Fireworks are a booming industry, even if the pyrotechnics have turned July 4th into a day fire marshals, and many residents, love to hate.


Read more...

Store Bought

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Market of Choice is on a tear. In 2012 the 35-year-old Eugene-based grocery chain opened a central kitchen/distribution center in its hometown. The market opened a third Portland store in the Cedar Mill neighborhood this year; a Bend outpost broke ground in March. A fourth Portland location is slated for the inner southeast “LOCA” development, a mixed-use project featuring condos and retail. Revenues in 2014 were $175 million, a double-digit increase over 2013. CEO Rick Wright discusses growth, market trends and how he keeps new “foodie” grocery clerks happy.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS