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Prescribed Summer Fire and Seeding Applied to Restore Juniper-Encroached and Exotic Annual Grass-Invaded Sagebrush Steppe

Author(s): Kirk W. Davies, A.E. Dean
Year Published: 2019
Description:

Western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis Hook.) encroachment and exotic annual grass (medusahead [Taeniatherum caput-medusae L. Nevski] and cheatgrass [Bromus tectorum L.]) invasion of sagebrush (Artemisia L.) communities decrease ecosystem services and degrade ecosystem function. Traditionally, these compositional changes were largely confined to separate areas, but more sagebrush communities are now simultaneously being altered by juniper and exotic annual grasses. Few efforts have evaluated attempts to restore these sagebrush communities. The Crooked River National Grassland initiated a project to restore juniper-encroached and annual grass-invaded sagebrush steppe using summer (mid-July) applied prescribed fires and postfire seeding. Treatments were unburned, burned, burned and seeded with a native seed mix, and burned and seeded with an introduced seed mix. Prescribed burning removed all juniper and initially reduced medusahead cover but did not influence cheatgrass cover. Neither the native nor introduced seed mix were successful at increasing large bunchgrass cover, and 6 yr post fire, medusahead cover was greater in burned treatments compared with the unburned treatment. Large bunchgrass cover and biological soil crusts were less in treatments that included burning. Exotic forbs and bulbous bluegrass (Poa bulbosa L.), an exotic grass, were greater in burned treatments compared with the unburned treatment. Sagebrush communities that are both juniper encroached and exotic annual grass invaded will need specific management of both juniper and annual grasses. We suggest that additional treatments, such as pre-emergent herbicide control of annuals and possibly multiple seeding events, are necessary to restore these communities. We recommend an adaptive management approach in which additional treatments are applied on the basis of monitoring data.

Citation: Davies, Kirk W.; Dean, A.E. 2019. Prescribed summer fire and seeding applied to restore juniper-encroached and exotic annual grass-invaded sagebrush steppe. Rangeland Ecology & Management 72(4):635-639. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2019.03.006
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation, Fuels, Fuel Treatments & Effects, Prescribed Fire-use treatments
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 20243
FRAMES RCS number: 58121
Record updated: Nov 4, 2019