Section

  • Successful Vegetation Management Practices in the Sagebrush-Steppe

    This learning series responds to Section 7.b.iii, Action Item #5 within the Fuels section of the 2015 Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy, which calls for a comprehensive knowledge transfer program to enhance the fuels management program’s role in sagebrush-steppe management. The Strategy is intended to improve the efficiency and efficacy of actions to address rangeland fire, to better prevent and suppress rangeland fire, and improve efforts to restore fire-impacted landscapes.

    Specifically, this series provides a synthesis of foundational and emerging science related to vegetation management in the sagebrush steppe. The learning modules synthesize the state of the science for six management topics:

    • Background and origins of the conservation problems facing the sagebrush steppe and Greater Sage-Grouse
    • Understanding and applying the concepts of Resistance and Resilience
    • Management of sagebrush ecosystems experiencing conifer encroachment
    • Management of sagebrush ecosystems at risk of or invaded by invasive annual grasses
    • Restoration of sagebrush steppe ecosystems
    • Issues specific to the eastern range of Greater Sage-Grouse

    The modules showcase examples of landscapes where management actions are improving ecological conditions across the sagebrush steppe. In addition, the lessons contain science summaries and interviews with subject matter experts in the fields of plant ecology, fire management, vegetation treatments, and sage-grouse biology. Each lesson also incorporates existing informational products, such as videos and graphics, which strengthen the key messages being conveyed. Finally, each lesson presents highly relevant, selected literature which end users may find valuable.

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    • This lesson provides an overview of the conservation challenges facing the sagebrush steppe and describes the current trends and threats across the range of the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), including the status of Greater Sage-Grouse populations, conifer expansion, invasive annual grasses, wildfire, urban development, agricultural expansion, and others.

    • Resilience and Resistance concepts provide a science-based background that can inform strategic placement of fuels treatments, augment effective fire operations, and inform allocation of scarce assets during periods of heightened fire activity across the sagebrush ecosystem. This topic explores the Resistance and Resilience concepts for the sagebrush ecosystem.


    • Over the past 150 years, sagebrush steppe, a vital habitat for sage-grouse, has been under threat from encroachment by conifers, primarily juniper and pine species.

      Explore this topic to learn the history behind conifer encroachment, the science, and what you can do as a land manager to help restore conifer encroached areas of the Sagebrush-Steppe. Click the link below to begin.


    • Across the Great Basin, invasion of annual grasses, especially cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum ), is altering natural fire regimes and converting large expanses of the sagebrush sea to an ocean of non-native annual grass. Explore this topic to understand the threat of invasive grasses on the sagebrush ecosystem.


    • Sagebrush habitats that are degraded, disturbed, invaded by annual grasses, or destroyed can be restored so that they can continue to support sagebrush-obligate species such as the Greater Sage-Grouse. Restoration may consist of removing or eliminating certain undesired species from a landscape, preventing these species from establishing in the first place, increasing the cover or density of desirable species, or establishing sagebrush and associated grasses and forbs where there are few to no such species. This lesson covers the revegetation or reestablishment of perennial plant communities, including sagebrush seedings and plantings.


    • This topic concentrates on opportunities for fuels and vegetation management in the eastern part of the Greater Sage-Grouse range, relying heavily on the material presented in Chambers et al. (2016) and references included in that publication. The topic focuses on factors that influence sagebrush ecosystem resilience to disturbance and resistance to nonnative invasive annual grasses and the distribution and relative abundance of sage-grouse populations in order to help address persistent ecosystem threats, such as invasive annual grasses and wildfire, and anthropogenic threats, such as oil and gas development and cropland conversion, to develop effective management strategies.