There are several case studies that address the invasion of annual grasses. Explore each Bureau of Land Management project below.
(an example of landscape-level compartmentalization)
BLM’s Idaho Falls District is implementing the Big Desert Roads Fuel Breaks project, which is a multi-phased series of linear roadside treatments aimed at reducing fire size and improving initial attack effectiveness.
The objectives for the fuel breaks include moderating fire behavior (flame length, flame height, fire intensity, fire duration) while complimenting fire suppression safety and effectiveness. Though not fully completed, this project has already allowed fire managers to successfully limit the spread of wildfires and contain them at smaller sizes.
Some specific techniques used in the Big Desert Roads Fuel Breaks project include:
BLM’s Boise District began implementation on the Paradigm Fuel Break Project in 2016, following the signing of the Record of Decision in April, 2015. Over the next six to ten years, the Boise District will establish a 356-mile network of fuel breaks in the Paradigm Project area, which encompasses approximately 293,891 acres of federal, state, and private lands.
Seeding prostrate kochia will be the primary method for creating fuel breaks on approximately 274 miles (9,854 acres). In slickspot peppergrass habitat, short statured perennial plants would be used in place of kochia. These other species include: Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda), bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides), Russian wildrye (Psathyrostachys junceus), dryland alfalfa (Medicago sativa), and dwarf green rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus). This and other methods will be used to develop non-kochia fuel breaks on an additional 82 miles (3,024 acres). Treatments include mowing and disking for seed bed preparation, seeding, mechanical thinning and mowing, targeted grazing on a limited basis, and herbicide.
Prostrate kochia is a semi-evergreen sub-shrub originating from central Eurasia that effectively competes with invasive annual grasses and forbs (St. John and Ogle 2009). It has been shown to effectively reduce flame lengths and slow the spread of fires even in windy conditions (Harrison et al. 2002, Monsen and Memmott 1999, Monsen 1994), which improves the opportunity for firefighters to more safely engage in effective suppression actions.
Harrison, R.D., B.L. Waldron, K.B. Jensen, R.J. Page, T.A. Monaco, W.H. Horton, and A.J. Palazzo. 2002. Forage kochia helps fight range fires. Rangelands 24:3-7.
To learn more about Systems Invaded by Annual Grasses, click Resources to view key and supplemental literature.