Title: Restoring mountain big sagebrush steppe habitat after western juniper control Authors
Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 25, 2012
Publication Date: February 25, 2013
Citation: Davies, K.W., Bates, J.D., Nafus, A.M. 2013. Restoring mountain big sagebrush steppe habitat after western juniper control [abstract]. 66th Annual Meeting of the Society for Range Management, February 3-7, 2013, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Paper No. 78. Technical Abstract: Western juniper is being controlled across large acreages in the northern Great Basin to restore sagebrush steppe plant communities. One of the most common control methods is prescribed burning. After burning juniper stands, sagebrush is absent from the community and the herbaceous understory may be significantly reduced. These areas may need to be seeded to accelerate recovery of sagebrush steppe habitat and prevent exotic plant invasion. However, many areas treated occur in rugged terrain that precludes the use of seed drills and therefore, are aerial seeded. Little information is available to determine if aerial seeding herbaceous vegetation and sagebrush after juniper control can accelerate the recovery of habitat for sagebrush-associated wildlife and restore the herbaceous understory. At five sites, we applied three treatments to evaluate seeding: 1) nothing seeded (control), 2) seeding a herbaceous seed mix, 3) seeding a herbaceous seed mix and sagebrush. Herbaceous vegetation was aerially seeded and sagebrush seed was broadcast seeded in treatment plots the fall of 2009 after a prescribed burn was applied to control junipers. By the third year post-treatment, sagebrush cover averaged <0.1% and 5.8% in the control plots and where sagebrush was seeded, respectively. Sagebrush plants produced seed the second year after seeding. Seeded herbaceous species increased herbaceous vegetation cover and density. Perennial grasses cover was about 2-fold greater in the seeded plots compared to the controls. This preliminary data suggests that seeding sagebrush and herbaceous vegetation greatly accelerates the recovery of habitat for sagebrush-associated wildlife species and the herbaceous understory.