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
Substantial progress was realized in 2010 as a result of the collaborative effort of the EBIPM team. Progress on this project focused on 1) data collection from the numerous research plots established throughout the Great Basin in 2008 and 2009 to address subobjectives 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3, and 2) increasing the awareness and adoption of ecologically-based invasive plant management (EBIPM) to address subobjectives 1.4 and 1.5. Data from research in each of the 5 watersheds is beig compiled for analysis and manuscript submittal. Twelve manuscripts have been submitted in 2010 that have an Area-wide project component. Data collection will be ongoing. Some plots have been retreated and new treatments, based on results from the previous year, have been made. Cheatgrass-inhibiting bacteria research was initiated in the fall of 2009 and spring of 2010 in each watershed. The EBIPM framework has been amended into a comprehensive decision tool that will enhance land manager's ability to design and implement sustainable invasive plant management and restoration programs. Through this research integrated management options and strategies have expanded for invasive annual grasses. The EBIPM team has made significant progress in education and outreach through a number of venues. In each respective watershed there have been field tours, workshops, and meetings that have reached public and private land managers, policy makers, teachers and students. We estimate over 3000 people have received some form of the EBIPM message for invasive annual grass management. A field based intensive course on EBIPM has been developed and is being held in Boise, ID in 2010. We are estimating 100 participants for the course. This course will be the impetus for developing a college level and land manager's curriculum. The curriculum has progressed with 11 modules outlined and focus groups have been held to determine the most important educational needs for EBIPM. Additionally, the Western Society of Weed Science (WSWS) has accepted a proposal to sponsor this course beginning in 2011. WSWS sponsorship will further increase the impact of EBIPM in the western U.S. A weed prevention area was established in Utah that has been completely mapped for medusahead and over 1000 acres treated to date. To estimate the economic benefits of ecological services provided by Great Basin rangelands, a survey was designed and pre-testing has been completed. A ranch-level dynamic programming model has been developed to determine how a rancher's decision making is influenced by current economic and ecological conditions. This work is being compelted to assess the impacts of invasive grasses and preliminary results have been presented at several conferences in 2010. Four user guidelines and a video have been completed to assist land managers in using the EBIPM methodology and over 1500 hard copies have been distributed in 2010. The EBIPM website functions as a clearing house and portal for all the latest EBIPM related information and statistics show website hits averaging several hundred per month. The Area-wide project team continues to meet monthly for conference call updates and strategic planning.
1. Ecologically-based Invasive Plant Management (EBIPM) framework amended into a comprehensive decision tool: A major constraint in restoration ecology and invasive plant management is the lack of a useful decision-making framework to guide land managers in developing successful management plans for invasive annual grasses. ARS scientists in the Range and Meadow Forage Management Research Unit in Burns have amended the EBIPM framework into a comprehensive decision tool that provides a step by step planning process. With a framework in a step by step process rangeland manager’s ability to design and implement sustainable invasive plant management and restoration programs increases. Creating useful tools for land managers will substantially impact best management practices on western rangelands.
2. Ecologically-based Invasive Plant Management (EBIPM) Field Course developed and sponsorship gained: A key to improved integrated invasive plant management is for land managers to be sufficiently trained in the step by step decision framework in order to be able to initiate the process on their land. A field-based, interactive learn- by -doing course has been developed to train land managers to use EBIPM. A core team of ARS scientists in the Range and Meadow Forage Management Research Unit in Burns, OR are instructors, providing in-depth training on EBIPM principles. The immediate impact is that 100 participants will be trained at the 2010 course held in Boise, ID. Additional impacts from this effort will be the development of a college level and a land manager module based curriculum for EBIPM that is under construction through a specific cooperating agreement. Invasive plant management will improve.
3. User Guideline: Applying Ecologically-based Invasive Plant Management: Adoption of Ecologically-based Invasive Plant Management (EBIPM) can be influenced by a variety of factors, including land manager understanding of ecological concepts and management methods, perception of program complexity and cost, and linkages among science and management. ARS scientists in the Range and Meadow Forage Management Research Unit in Burns, OR developed this user guideline to provides land managers with an introduction and overview to EBIPM. The guideline emphasizes to managers that EBIPM can be effective in solving their invasive plant issues. The guideline is targeted at impacting land managers skills for effective changes to solve invasive species infestations. Seven hundred copies have been distributed since January 2010. Invasive plant management in the Great Basin will improve.
4. User Guideline: Principles of Ecologically-Based Invasive Plant Management: Invasive annual grasses continue to advance at an alarming rate despite efforts of control by land managers. ARS scientists in the Range and Meadow Forage Management Research Unit in Burns, OR developed this guideline to provide land managers with the important ecological principles that can guide their choices for tools and strategies for managing invasive grasses. The information is useful and impacts land managers by illustrating the connection or link between the cause of undesired plant community change and the tools and strategies needed to effectively manage it. Two hundred and fifty copies have been distributed since April 2010.
5. Ecologically-based Invasive Plant Management (EBIPM) Video Series #1: Implementing EBIPM, In the Field: The rapid expansion of invasive annual grasses on rangeland fuels the need for action on the part of resource and land managers. EBIPM offers new hope with the challenges of invasive plant infestations. The video platform allows for greater dissemination of the EBIPM message to aid comprehensive understanding by managers. The complexities of managing rangeland resources are illustrated clearly in this video by ARS scientists in the Range and Meadow Forage Management Research Unit in Burns, OR. Instruction in video format provides the ability to show viewers that EBIPM can work, that it has worked and that they can put it to the test themselves. Two hundred copies have been distributed since April 2010. The video was shown during the entire Society for Range Management (SRU) conference trade show in Denver, Co in February 2010. The SRM conference attendance was 1500 land managers.
6. Weed Prevention Area (WPA) established: Preventing the invasion of undesired species is the most cost and time effective means of managing invasive species because it is a proactive approach that confronts the problem before it reaches extremely costly proportions. Cache and Box Elder counties of northern Utah are faced with increasing acreages of medusahead infestations. ARS scientists in the Range and Meadow Forage Management Research Unit in Burns, OR assisted Cache County producers in forming a Weed Prevention Area. A WPA gave land managers a method to coordinate their efforts of medusahead prevention and management as well as planning and coordinating integrated treatments of restoration and continued prevention. Mapping of the entire area has been completed, and the impact includes 1000 acres of medusahead treated to date. Several meetings and a field day have directly influenced private and public land managers in the watershed to be part of the prevention program. As a demonstration site, this WPA can be an example to watersheds throughout the region on how to cost effectively manage invasive grasses using the prevention model.
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.