Submitted to: Oregon Beef Producer
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/20/2009
Publication Date: 11/9/2009
Citation: Davies, K.W., Svejcar, A.J., Bates, J.D. 2009. GRAZING CAN HELP WESTERN RANGELANDS RECOVER FROM FIRE. Oregon Beef Producer 22:12-14 (Popular Press).
Technical Abstract: Much of the approximately 153 million acres of sagebrush rangeland in the western United States is at risk of invasion by non-native annual grass invasion, such as cheatgrass, following fire. Livestock grazing has also been suggested to have contributed to exotic annual grass spread. However, the response to fire differed in moderately grazed areas compared to areas protected from livestock grazing since 1936. Long-term protection from livestock grazing resulted in cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) invasions following fire, while moderately grazed areas were not invaded. After burning, cheatgrass biomass production and density were more than 49- and 15-fold greater, respectively, in the areas protected from grazing than moderately grazed areas. These differences were still evident 14 years post-fire and demonstrate that grazing history can have significant influence on the ability of plant communities to tolerate fire. These results suggest that moderate levels of livestock grazing may be needed in sagebrush-steppe communities to protect the critical wildlife habitat.