Wanted! Mountain Cedars
By Elizabeth McGreevy
Foreword by Romey Swanson
This controversial, eye-opening book by suggests a different perception of Mountain Cedars (also called Ashe Junipers). It digs into the politics, history, economics, culture, and ecology surrounding these trees in the Hill Country of Texas from the 1700s to the present. Since the 1920s, reporters, writers, scientists, landowners, politicians, and cedar fever victims have characterized the trees as a non-native, water hogging, grass killing, toxic, useless species to justify its removal. The result has been a glut of “cedar tall tales.”
Yet before the 1890s, people highly respected Mountain Cedars. The large Mountain Cedars they reported were large timber trees with strong, decay-resistant heartwood. Most were cut down and sold to boost the young Hill Country economy. The clearcutting of old-growth forests and dense woodlands and the continuous overgrazing of prairies that followed led to mass soil degradation and erosion. Acting as Nature’s band-aid, Mountain Cedars morphed into pioneering bushes and spread across degraded soils.
This book aims to track down the origins and cedar tall tales to determine what is true, what is false, and what is somewhere in between. Through a series of revelations, the author strives to replace anti-cedar sentiments with a more constructive, less emotional approach to Hill Country land management.