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 Ecologically-Based Invasive Plant Management (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
Significant progress was made on all objectives of the Area-wide project for invasive plant management of annual grasses as the research, outreach, and education are in full swing throughout the region. This multi-agency, multi-state partnership has systematically facilitated the adoption of science-based methods for managing ecosystems invaded or threatened by invasive annual grasses throughout the western United States. The Area-wide project has advanced the use of science-based decision making in range and wildland management by providing an ecologically-based decision support system for producers and managers. We are improving the knowledge base through extensive research and elucidating the ecological processes in disrepair in invasive annual grass infested acreages. It is estimated that a component of Ecologically-based Invasive Plant Management (EBIPM) has been implemented on over 500,000 acres of rangeland and this number is growing rapidly as the project is expanding. Over 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts have been submitted in 2011 that are providing new principles on which management must be based bringing the total manuscripts since the project began to well over 35. These publications appear in either the ARS-Burns NP-304 Report of Progress or in reports from cooperating locations. Research topics are varied but all are aimed at improving rangelands through prevention and management of invasive annual grasses. Research focuses include mechanisms of plant community resistance to invasive species, land use legacies of dry farming on soils and rangeland seeding successes, weather-data and forecasting models, seedbed microclimate and seedbed treatment impacts, seedling establishment. Four theses were successfully defended in 2011 directly relating to Area-wide project research objectives and testing components of the EBIPM decision framework. Six specific cooperative agreements (SCAs) have been entered into and are helping create the widest possible dissemination of information to manage invasive annual grasses throughout the western states. The research focus of these SCA’s include, developing and quantifying the impact of weed prevention areas, developing university and land manager EBIPM curriculums, one pass system demonstration area for invasive annual grass management, economic impacts of invasive annual grasses, demonstration of cheatgrass and medusahead control , and restoration of invasive annual grass infested rangeland. The EBIPM team has substantially advanced the adoption of EBIPM through targeted education and outreach programs. We estimate that we have directly impacted over 3000 producers and land managers through distribution of decision support guidelines that have been developed as part of the area-wide project. An additional 8,000 to 12,000 managers have been indirectly impacted through the EBIPM website, formal presentations at professional conferences and field tours and workshops.