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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Invasive Species and Pollinator Health » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #236786

Title: Basin wildrye: the forgotten grass revisited

item Clements, Darin - Charlie
item Young, James

Submitted to: The Progressive Rancher
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/30/2010
Publication Date: 4/5/2010
Citation: Clements, C.D., Henderson, D., Young, J.A. 2010. Basin wildrye: the forgotten grass revisited. The Progressive Rancher. 20(2):24-25.

Interpretive Summary: Basin wildrye is a landscape characterizing perennial grass species that has largely become discounted by many resource managers as it pertains to grazing resources. The increase frequency of wildfires has resulted in many habitats that formerly were abundant with basin wildrye once again being represented by this robust perennial grass species. The management of this species under current grazing systems is often over-looked and not mentioned in site descriptions, etc... During the 1980s a fair amount of research was conducted on this species concerning germination and reestablishment of this once abundant species. With the increased occurrence and abundance of basin wildrye it is time for resource managers to take a closer look at this species and its values to wildlife and domestic livestock throughout the Great Basin.

Technical Abstract: Basin wildrye was once a very abundant and widely occurring species throughout the landscapes of northern Nevada. When Captain Simpson, of the topographical Engineers, explored the route for a wagon road across the central Great Basin he marveled at the grass in the valley bottoms that reached to his saddle stirrups. This robust bunchgrass occurs from Minnesota to British Columbia and south to California and over to Colorado. For much of the 20th century range managers discounted basin wildrye as a forage species, but in the 1980s researchers reported on its values and the need to reestablish this species for its resource values. This effort fell short though and this paper describes past research and the current circumstances by which basin wildrye is returning to many landscapes following recurrent wildfires. The grazing management that is occurring on these varying landscapes may not be conducive with the proper way to manage this robust perennial grass.