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Big sagebrush: A sea fragmented into lakes, ponds, and puddles

Author(s): Bruce L. Welch
Year Published: 2005

Pioneers traveling along the Oregon Trail from western Nebraska, through Wyoming and southern Idaho and into eastern Oregon, referred to their travel as an 800 mile journey through a sea of sagebrush, mainly big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata). Today approximately 50 percent of the sagebrush sea has given way to agriculture, cities and towns, and other human developments. What remains is further fragmented by range management practices, creeping expansion of woodlands, alien weed species, and the historic view that big sagebrush is a worthless plant. Two ideas are promoted in this report: (1) big sagebrush is a nursing mother to a host of organisms that range from microscopic fungi to large mammals, and (2) many range management practices applied to big sagebrush ecosystems are not science based.

Citation: Welch, B. L. 2005. Big sagebrush: a sea fragmented into lakes, ponds, and puddles. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-144. Fort Collins, CO, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.
Topic(s): Recovery after fire
Ecosystem(s): Sagebrush steppe
Document Type: Technical Report or White Paper
NRFSN number: 15446
FRAMES RCS number: 7910
TTRS (Tall Timbers Research Station) Number: 21454
Record updated: Nov 30, 2017