Schmelzer, L., B. Perryman, B. Bruce, B. Schultz, K. McAdoo, G. McCuin, S. Swanson, J. Wilker, and K. Conley. 2014, Case Study: Reducing cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) fuel loads using fall cattle grazing., The Professional Animal Scientist, 30:270-278.

Since the mid-1980s, sagebrush rangelands in the Great Basin of the United States have experienced more frequent and larger wildfires. These fires affect livestock forage, the sagebrush/grasses/forbs mosaic that is important for many wildlife species (e.g., the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)), post-fire flammability and fire frequency. When a sagebrush, especially a Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis (Beetle & A. Young)), dominated area largely devoid of herbaceous perennials burns, it often transitions to an annual dominated and highly flammable plant community that thereafter excludes sagebrush and native perennials. Considerable effort is devoted to revegetating rangeland following fire, but to date there has been very little analysis of the factors that lead to the success of this revegetation. This paper utilizes a revegetation monitoring dataset to examine the densities of three key types of vegetation, specifically nonnative seeded grasses, nonnative seeded forbs, and native Wyoming big sagebrush, at several points in time following seeding.We find that unlike forbs, increasing the seeding rates for grasses does not appear to increase their density (at least for the sites and seeding rates we examined). Also, seeding Wyoming big sagebrush increases its density with time since fire. Seeding of grasses and forbs is less successful at locations that were dominated primarily by annual grasses (cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.)), and devoid of shrubs, prior to wildfire. This supports the hypothesis of a ‘‘closing window of opportunity’’ for seeding at locations that burned sagebrush for the first time in recent history.

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Associated Programs

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Weed Prevention & Management

Integrated weed management is based on economically viable and environmentally friendly weed management tactics that combine use of herbicides with other control tactics, such as mowing, burning, tillage, grazing and re-vegetation. By taking steps to prevent weed invasion, land owners/managers and other stakeholders can avoid the economic and environmental impacts of noxious and invasive weeds.

 

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