Submitted to: Mule Deer
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: March 10, 2003
Publication Date: June 1, 2003
Citation: CLEMENTS, D.D., YOUNG, J.A. Restoring antelope bitterbrush communities. COLORADO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE MULE DEER MANAGEMENT MEETING. 2003. Interpretive Summary: Antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) is a critical browse species to native and domestic animals. It is well documented on the importance of antelope bitterbrush to wintering mule deer herds. The lack of antelope bitterbrush seedling recruitment has led to old and decadent stands. The loss of antelope bitterbrush to such occurrences as wildfire, insects, and urban development has compounded the decline in vigorous antelope bitterbrush communities. In this article we report on the findings of planting and transplanting antelope bitterbrush using different methods and on the success and failures experienced using these various methods. We also point out the importance of attempting antelope bitterbrush restoration efforts.
Technical Abstract: Antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), an endemic species, is a critical browse species to many mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) herds in the western United States. The lack of success in restoring antelope bitterbrush by resource managers in past years has left them with a bitter taste resulting in the abandonment of any antelope bitterbrush restoration or rehabilitation efforts on many rangelands. We report on the success and failures of seeding and transplanting antelope bitterbrush to better inform resource managers on the positive attributes that can be experienced through continued antelope bitterbrush restoration efforts. Among these are the direct seeding of antelope bitterbrush seed following a wildfire in northeastern California that yielded more than 2,500 antelope bitterbrush shrubs per acre compared to the 250 per acre prior to the wildfire. Another antelope bitterbrush seeding conducted in northwestern Nevada following a wildfire yielded over 2,200 antelope bitterbrush shrubs per acre compared to the 27 antelope bitterbrush shrubs prior to the wildfire. Often, transplanting is the desired method that resource managers choose. We also report on transplanting antelope bitterbrush, success of different methodologies, and costs associated with transplanting. Our research concluded that if it is possible to seed antelope bitterbrush, this method is much more successful and cost effective.