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Title: Are early summer wildfires an opportunity to revegetate medusahead-invaded rangelands?

item Davies, Kirk

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/25/2012
Publication Date: 2/25/2013
Citation: Johnson, D., Davies, K.W., Nafus, A. 2013. Are early summer wildfires an opportunity to revegetate medusahead-invaded rangelands? [abstract]. 66th Annual Meeting of the Society for Range Management, February 3-7, 2013, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Paper No. 325.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Successful revegetation of medusdahead-invaded plant communities can be prohibitively expensive, because it often requires iterative applications of integrated control and revegetation treatments. Prescribed burning has been used to control medusahead and prepare seedbeds for revegetation, but burning has been constrained by liability concerns and produced widely varying results. Capitalizing on naturally occurring wildfires could reduce revegetation costs and alleviate liability concerns. Thus, our objective was to determine if early summer wildfires and fall drill seeding could be used as a treatment combination to decrease medusahead and increase perennial and native vegetation. Treatments were evaluated pre-treatment and for three years post-fire at six sites and included: 1) an early summer wildfire combined with a seeding treatment (burn and seed) and 2) a non-treated (no burn, no seed) control. Perennial grass density was 4.6- to 10.0-fold greater in the burn and seed treatment compared to the control in the first three years post-treatment (P < 0.05). Exotic annual grass density and cover in the third year post-treatment were lower in burn and seed treatment than in the control (P < 0.05). However, exotic annual grass density was still > 130 individuals'm-2 in the burn and seed treatment. The density of exotic annual grass is of concern because over time medusahead may displace perennial grasses and annual forbs that increased with the burn and seed treatment. However, it appears that early summer wildfires may provide an opportunity to reduce the cost of integrated programs to revegetate medusahead-invaded plant ommunities.