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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Regarding the Need for Increased Efforts in Management and Restoration of Sagebrush Communities in the Great Basin

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
To conduct cooperative research and implementation activities on restoration of sagebrush communities in the Great Basin.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
This is a non-funded obligating document that shall not obligate the participating parties to obligate or transfer any funds. The MOU primarily encourages all signatory institutions to cooperate in the overall goals of habitat restoration research and implementation efforts in areas that are highly impacted by invasive plants such as exotic cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and/or native pinyon-juniper. The partnerships will allow the signatory institutions to set joint priorities, coordinate activities, define common visions/ goals and to develop and implement innovative approaches to resolve serious rangeland problems within the Great Basin.


3.Progress Report:

This agreement was established in support of objective 4 of the in-house project, "Develop restoration methodologies to prevent the invasion of annual grasses (such as cheatgrass, medusahead rye, and/or red brome) following destructive events (such as fire) in rangeland ecosystems". ARS researchers at Reno, Nevada, worked with other state and federal agencies to identify the major barriers that need to be addressed to “turn the tide” on cheatgrass. ARS scientists at Reno, Nevada, seeded and transplanted mountain big sagebrush and Wyoming sagebrush in northern Nevada field sites managed by Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) to compare the establishment rates of seeding versus transplanted sagebrush plants. We will be able to determine which technique is more cost effective on a per acre bases when restoring degraded sage grouse habitat. Seeding efforts took place in the fall of 2012. Transplanting efforts took place in the fall of 2012 and the spring of 2013 to measure the success of fall versus spring transplanting methodologies. The seeding efforts resulted in 0.0003 plants/m² at a cost of $102.00/acre. The fall transplants resulted in a survival of 73% to date, and the spring transplants have a survival of 68% to date. Transplants are spaced at 3m intervals and resulted in 0.225 plants/m² at an estimated cost of $1,510/acre. At this point in time, it is more feasible to transplant than to seed as we are only experiencing the establishment of 16 big sagebrush shrubs/acre with broadcast seeding, and over 4,000 big sagebrush shrubs/acre via transplanting. These efforts will be conducted again in the fall of 2013 and the spring of 2014.

The USDA, ARS, Great Basin Rangelands Research Unit (GBRRU) was invited to present their research at five separate meetings to stakeholders and peers, and presented another nine papers at scientific meetings. In December 2012, GBRRU presented to the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and the Nevada Wildlife Commission an overview of rehabilitation of cheatgrass-infested rangelands. Another presentation on the rehabilitation of degraded big sagebrush communities was given to the Nevada Sagebrush Ecosystem Panel in April of 2013. A field tour was conducted in June, 2013 and attended by the Nevada and Utah Cattlemen’s Association, Nevada Woolgrowers, Newmont Mining Corporation, Bureau of Land Management, NDOW, Nevada Wildlife Coalition, Southern Nevada Water Authority, and private citizens. ARS scientists from Reno, Nevada,attended the Great Basin Plant Materials Center Steering committee meeting to advise on the priorities for the development of promising native plant materials to be used in restoration and rehabilitation trials.


Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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