This section explores the tools available to land managers for dealing with the conservation issues facing the Sagebrush Steppe and Greater Sage-Grouse. Scroll down the page to read each sub-section, or click the Land Management Tools drop-down navigation to go directly to a sub-section.
Why do we do vegetation treatments/fuels management? (from Miller et al. 2014)
Operational considerations and fuels management:
Resistance and Resilience
The complex interactions of multiple environmental variables and how those variables influence resilience to disturbance and resistance to invasion is critical to effectively manage sagebrush steppe ecosystems; this is the concept of Resilience and Resistance. Begin by watching this video of Mike Pellant discussing the emergence of Resistance and Resilience science.
This concept is explored in more detail in the lesson on Resilience and Resistance, but an introduction is provided here. Key gradients include elevation, precipitation, soil temperature and moisture which combine to influence plant productivity and fuel loads (Chambers et al. 2014, Pyke et al. 2015, Figure 3).
Figure 3 Click the image for a printable version.
Figure 6 Click the image for a printable version.
Resilience and resistance data allow managers to predict the ecological responses of sagebrush ecosystems to both disturbance and management actions and to determine appropriate management strategies.
In this video, Jeanne Chambers explains how the concepts of Resilience and Resistance help managers make better decisions on management objectives.
The ecological site concept aggregates areas with similar soils and climate that will support similar amounts and types of vegetation and includes an explanation of the successional dynamics of plant communities that may occur on the ecological site.
Figure 6 Click the image for a printable version.
To begin, watch this video of Doug Havlina discussing the Fire and Invasives Assessment Tool.
Completed in 2015, the Fire and Invasives Assessment Tool (FIAT) approach identified priority habitat areas and management strategies in five assessment areas in the Great Basin (see map) to reduce threats to Greater Sage-Grouse resulting from impacts of invasive annual grasses, wildfires, and conifer expansion. For each assessment area, the following two steps were conducted:
FIAT Step 1 aims to:
Begin by watching Doug Havlina explain Step 2 of the Fire and Invasive Assessemnt Tool.
In this step, teams produced potential treatments and management strategies for sage-grouse conservation, including opportunities for fuels management, habitat restoration, fire operations, and post-fire rehabilitation to be conducted by the local management units. This step used the sage-grouse habitat matrix (combining sagebrush cover and resistance/resilience, Chambers et al. 2017, Table 8) and spatial data to map these areas on the landscape, set priorities, and determine treatment opportunity areas. The outcome of FIAT step 2 was a comprehensive program of work for the five assessment areas, which was captured in written reports and a geodatabase.
Table 8: Click the image for a printable version.
Shown are maps from the Southern Great Basin FIAT assessment.
BLM is utilizing an integrated program of work (IPOW) to prioritize and fund projects which benefit sage-grouse. These funds are for projects which address threat factors and include conifer removal, seeding, chemical treatment of invasive species, strategically placed fuel breaks, and other measures which change fire behavior, augment suppression effectiveness, or protect/maintain/restore habitat.
Funding sources to implement the IPOW include both fuels management and resource program funding.
The Strategy, released May 19, 2015, 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. These activities involve targeted investments to enhance efforts to manage rangeland fire in specific portions of the Great Basin, consistent with efforts of tribal, state, and other lands, and in keeping with the trust responsibilities to Indian tribes and other statutory obligations.
Essential to the success of the Strategy is improving efforts to work on a landscape-level and better employing science and technology to target areas of high priority for preventing, suppressing, and restoring fire-impacted landscapes using a risk-based approach.
Through application of “All Hands, All Lands” management, increased collaboration among Federal, state, tribal, and local officials, natural resource managers, and the fire community can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall rangeland fire management effort. A commitment to monitoring changes in resource conditions to evaluate the effectiveness of different management strategies will improve learning and, through adaptive management, increase the success of the Strategy.
Better managing rangeland vegetation and reversing the spread of invasive, non-native grasses is critical to breaking the invasive species-fire cycle that has contributed to the increased frequency and intensity of rangeland fires. By planning projects at a landscape scale to reduce and control invasive species and rapidly restore lands impacted by fire to native vegetation, progress in protecting and restoring the sagebrush-steppe ecosystem for the benefit of all can be achieved.
The Strategy includes the following major components: