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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Dubois, Idaho » Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research » Research » Research Project #443666

Research Project: Sheep Station Prescribed Burn Tebuthiuron Units

Location: Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research

Project Number: 2056-21500-001-003-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Dec 31, 2025

A long-term objective of the RSPER-ARS is to develop integrated methods for increasing production efficiency of sheep and while simultaneously improving the sustainability of rangeland ecosystems. A primary component of this effort involves rangeland management and ecology research, which includes prescribed burning and wildfire risk mitigation. As part of ongoing research activities, the RSPER-ARS burns portions of their headquarters. Placement, timing, and extent of burns are subject to the research hypothesis(s) and goal(s) and approved actions. The goal of these projects is to enhance science-based management of shrub-dominated rangelands with landscape-scale experimental designs relevant to land stewards, wildlife managers, and ranchers in the Intermountain region. The objectives are to use a replicated, landscape-scale experiments to: 1) quantify the effects of pre-burn woody and fine-fuel management (herbicide and grazing, respectively) on post-fire mountain big sagebrush plant community composition change and heterogeneity, indicators of rangeland forage and wildlife habitat outcomes; 2) provide prescribed fire training opportunities for fire professionals; 3) conduct prescribed burning as a management tool on the Sheep Station to enhance the sustainability of the range sheep production; and 4) to reduce the fuel loads and the associated long-term risk of catastrophic wildfire to wildlife habitat at the location.

The Wellfield Prescribed Fire research project follows an earlier, 10+ year study of fire-grazing interactions in a nearby area where scientists conducted a replicated experiment on multiple small plots. Scientists with the RSPER-ARS will enhance the relevance of these initial findings to managers by evaluating these interactions using landscape-scale treatments reflective of realworld spatial scales, including pre-burn grazing by a band (500+) sheep in a traditional, extensive grazing system. Expected outcomes/deliverables include: 1) empirical models of plant community dynamics that can guide manager decisionmaking about vegetation management (fire and herbicide) treatments relative to goals for biodiversity, plant community composition, and forage availability; and 2) prescribed burn training opportunities for federal agency cooperators. Interested parties/stakeholders include government and non-government land management/holding agencies/groups, private landowners, agricultural and conservation associations/groups, and rural communities.