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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Burns, Oregon » Range and Meadow Forage Management Research » Research » Research Project #421833

Research Project: Impacts of Grazing on Mountain Meadows

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The objective of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of prescribed grazing to enhance ecological conditions in Sierra Nevada meadows. Improving ecological condition is a primary goal of prescribed grazing, yet there is limited research based information about ecological response to prescribed grazing applied at the management scale. This project makes use of an existing dataset to address this information need.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Meadow ecological condition data collected over the past 15 years by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) from National Forests in the Sierra Nevada will be provided to the cooperating scientist at University of California Davis (UCD). The UCD cooperator will collaborate with USFS and USDA Argicultural Research Service (ARS), Burns, Oregon to conduct statistical analysis of this data to determine trends in ecological condition. The UCD cooperator will collaborate with USFS and ARS to quantify and describe grazing management on a sub-set of the meadows over the past 50 years, and collaborate with USFS and ARS to correlate meadow grazing management to the trends in meadow condition. The UCD cooperator will also collaborate with ARS and USFS on a sub-set of meadows to investigate the use of remote sensing to determine trend in meadow condition using the 15 years of ecological condition data as ground verification.

3. Progress Report:
This project will be extended another year. Progress was made on Objective 1 of the parent project, which relates to the effects of fire, mechanical treatments, livestock grazing, introduced invasive weeds, western juniper expansion, and climate on the vegetation and watershed function of sagebrush steppe rangelands. An extensive U.S. Forest Service data set on riparian vegetation at 800 sites in the Sierra Nevada mountains has been organized into a database that can now be analyzed for impacts of management, weather, and site. This data will also be correlated to known changes in grazing management for a subset of the sites where good management records exist. Vegetation data from all sites were verified and collected during the past year.

4. Accomplishments