1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
1) Assess the extent and impacts of cheatgrass/medusahead and their management on ecosystems; 2) Demonstrate state-of-the-art management strategies; 3) Conduct research to overcome barriers to the project’s success, enhance the project, and fill information-gaps; 4) Provide education and technology transfer to those managing land in the Great Basin; and 5) Create decision-support products and tools that will have a sustained impact on managing cheatgrass/medusahead in the Great Basin and surrounding ecosystems into the future.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
We will achieve this objective by combining the principles and concepts of EBIPM with state-of-the-art site-specific management of cheatgrass and medusahead infested rangeland and apply these strategies in 2-3 key watersheds in California, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and Utah.
3. Progress Report
Progress on the Area-wide project has been exponential this past year as the primary hiring and cooperative agreements have been completed. SCA’s have been funded with University of California-Davis, University of Nevada-Reno (UNR) and Oregon State University, as well as CRIS transfers to ARS Logan and ARS Boise for demonstration research to test ecological principles for managing both medusahead and cheatgrass. A vigorous effort where over 30 scientists and support staff from universities throughout the Great Basin and ARS stations in Logan, UT, Boise, ID, Burns, OR, and Reno, NV are directing a significant portion of their time advancing the Area-wide project and the principles of EBIPM. Area-wide project conference calls are held regularly to update everyone on the progress across the watersheds and to foster a team approach toward the project. State of the art ecologically-based landscape scale replicated treatments in combination with small scale plots have been applied in each of the watersheds in accordance with the SCA agreements. Data collection is underway in most watersheds and results will begin being disseminated this next year in a number of different forms to reach as wide as audience as possible. Educational/ products team has been formed and SCA’s have been developed to create additional products to have a far-reaching impact.
1. Demonstration research established: Innovative and integrated science-based solutions are vital to solving the invasive annual grass issue. Landscape scale and small plot experiments were established across 5 watersheds for multiple demonstration areas and gap-filling research for ecologically-based invasive plant management. Collaborators from universities and ARS stations from CA, UT, OR, NV, and ID have unique research components in each of the watersheds to fully investigate methods for gaining high adoption of EBIPM. Demonstration areas are to be used for outreach programs to stakeholders in 2010.
2. Development of the ecologically-based invasive plant management (EBIPM) decision framework: As EBIPM has advanced, ARS scientists have seen the need to create a decision tool that can be used by land managers. In this past year, ARS scientists at Burns, OR, developed a holistic framework that integrates the important aspects of land management. This decision tool fills a critical void in providing land managers with a much needed process to integrate assessing the current state of the land, predicting vegetation change with and without imposed management and evaluating the outcome of management strategies. Subsequent user guidelines are planned and are currently being written that will enhance the understanding and knowledge of the EBIPM model. The EBIPM decision model is instrumental for land managers to be able to effectively apply EBIPM.
3. EBIPM Training Course: The complexity of land management and particularly the problematic infestations of invasive annual grasses make it imperative that we have inclusive training programs to demonstrate EBIPM and how it will advance rangeland management. A weeklong EBIPM course was successfully held that targeted land managers to engage in the ecological framework and principles and concepts to be used by resource managers to achieve their desired goals. A complete EBIPM handbook was developed for participants. During the course, a team of eight ARS scientists at Burns, OR, conducted in-class presentations and exercises. This training course is a valuable portion of the Area-wide project and it is expected there will be multiple sessions in the watersheds during 2009-2010. Field tours and equipment demonstrations show how state-of-the-art tools and strategies can be effective when applied with guidance from the EBIPM decision model.
4. Revegetation Guidelines for the Great Basin-Considering Invasive Weeds: This guideline, developed by ARS scientists in Burns, OR, is providing valuable information on restoring rangelands. Land managers using this resource are finding in-depth, step-by-step procedures for establishing desired plant species for degraded rangelands in the Great Basin. Its importance and usefulness is in the detailed checklist format as they proceed with restoration efforts. Over 500 copies have been distributed since January 2009. This guideline is already being recognized as an important contribution to rangeland management for the contributions to all aspects of restoring rangelands throughout the Great Basin.
5. Adaptive Management User Guide for Invasive Annual Grasses: Adaptive management is a term used widely by land managers but there is really very little information or clear direction for implementing adaptive management. A guide written by ARS scientists in Burns, OR, offers a clear step-by-step process for managers to implement adaptive management. Managers are usually pressed for time. Once managers can begin developing and testing alternative strategies for invasive species for their specific sites, they should see improved success from invasive infestations and overall general production of the rangeland. The adoption of adaptive management will become more widespread with the distribution of this publication.
6. Invasive Annual Grasses: A 2-day conference partnering over 30 people was organized including ARS scientists from Boise, Logan and Reno and from the universities: Utah State; University of Reno, NV; and University of California at Riverside to address the problem of massive grasses. This group also included stakeholders from each of the watersheds that represented numerous agencies such as BLM, USFS, NRCS and state departments of wildlife as well as private land owners. It was an immensely successful conference as we engage the Area-wide team in the next phase of the project. The primary outcome of this meeting was a strategic plan outlining programs and products that will be developed to enhance the adoption of EBIPM throughout the Great Basin.
5. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
This demonstration and studies may all potentially benefit small farms (including ranching families and holders of grazing allotments on public land)by maintaining the quality and quantity of the forage base, and by increasing the profitability of pasture and hay production.