Ecological - Second Order
Recovery after fire
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) has long recognized the importance of sagebrush/grassland vegetative communities as wildlife habitat. Efforts to manipulate these communities concern FWP because of the potential implications to wildlife. Some groups believe sagebrush control generally will have beneficial results for wildlife, even if the primary reason for a particular program is to produce more livestock forage. FWP has taken part in and endorsed programs designed to alter vegetation for wildlife habitat improvements. However, FWP takes strong exception to the generalization by some that mature sagebrush stands are even-aged monocultures lacking the diversity necessary for optimum wildlife habitat. There are a number of questions regarding sagebrush control that need to be addressed. For example: (1) Do we need to regulate sagebrush stands to keep them productive for wildlife? and (2) What are the short and long-term ecological consequences of sagebrush eradication practices (particularly burning) to the entire vegetative community? In order to address these and other pertinent questions, FWP has referred to the literature on the major topics covered by this report.