Home Back Issues September 2012 The juniper solution

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

The Scott Kveton affair

News
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
ScottKvetonBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.


Read more...

Blips and trends in the housing market

News
Thursday, June 26, 2014
062614 thumb realestateBY ERIC FRUTS | OB BLOGGER

Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13% higher than at the beginning of the year. But, was last year a blip, or a trend?


Read more...

The 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

June 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

GreenLogoOregon is known for its green-minded citizens, and many workers are attracted to firms and organizations that practice green, not just pay lip service to it.


Read more...

Oregon Business wins awards

News
Monday, June 30, 2014

ASBPEOregon Business magazine won two silver awards for excellence in writing in the National American Society of Business Publication Editors Western region competition.


Read more...

OB Video: Dress for Success

News
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
DFSOBY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR

Dress for Success Oregon promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools.


Read more...

Trends in business succession

News
Thursday, July 03, 2014
TrendsBY TED AUSTIN & MIKE BAELE | GUEST CONTRIBUTORS

The Office of Economic Analysis announced that Oregon is currently enjoying the strongest job growth since 2006. While this resurgence has been welcome, the lingering effects of the 2008 “Great Recession” continues to affect Oregon businesses, especially with regard to estate planning and business succession.


Read more...

2014 Best Green Companies to Work For announced

News
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

100BestGreenMore than 350 people turned out today for Oregon Business magazine’s sixth annual celebration of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon.


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