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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Burns, Oregon » Range and Meadow Forage Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #310171

Title: Restoring sagebrush after mega-fires

item Hulet, April
item Davies, Kirk
item Madsen, Matthew
item Boyd, Chad

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2014
Publication Date: 1/30/2015
Citation: Hulet, A., Davies, K.W., Madsen, M.D., Boyd, C.S. 2015. Restoring sagebrush after mega-fires[Abstract]. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts. p. 47.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Sagebrush restoration after wildfires has had limited success, and success likely varies considerably by method, site characteristics and interactions between them. Our objective was to compare different sagebrush restoration methods (broadcast seeding, broadcast seeding and packing, planting sagebrush seedlings, seed pillows, and natural recovery) across elevation gradients ranging from 1219 to > 2134 m (4000 to > 7000 ft). Seed pillows, or seed enhancement technologies were formed by mixing sagebrush seed and various hydrophilic filler materials, bio-stimulants, and plant protectants together and running the mixture through an extruder to produce 20mm X 20mm X 7mm thick pillows. We used 175 plots spread across approximately a million acres of sagebrush rangelands in Oregon that had burned in two mega-fires in 2012, to compare different sagebrush restoration methods. Restoration success of the different methods was then correlated with environmental and site characteristics. Across the elevation gradient, precipitation was on average 25% less than the 30 year average between December 2013 and May 2014 (192 mm compared to 257 mm, respectively). At low elevation sites (below 1524 m or 5000 ft) all sagebrush restoration methods had limited success (< 0.07 sagebrush plants per m2). As elevation increased, success of sagebrush restoration methods also increased. Preliminary results suggest that seed pillows improve sagebrush established at higher elevations (seeds pillows were on average 8-fold greater than natural recovery). Planting sagebrush seedlings had the highest density of sagebrush at higher elevations (average density of 2.3 plants per m2) when compared to all other treatment methods. In order to evaluate which restoration method is most effective and efficient relative to environmental and site characteristics, this study will be repeated and monitored for multiple years with the expectation that this information will help land managers successfully restore sage-grouse habitat after wildfires by pairing restoration methods with site characteristics.