Location: Great Basin Rangelands ResearchTitle: Wildlife Habitat Improvement Using Range Improvement Practices
Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/25/2015
Publication Date: 2/4/2016
Citation: Clements, D.D., Harmon, D.L., Weltz, M.A., White, J. 2016. Wildlife Habitat Improvement Using Range Improvement Practices. Society for Range Management Meeting Proceedings. 69:93.
Interpretive Summary: Technical abstract only for 69th Annual Society for Range Management, January 31 – February 4, 2016, Corpus Christi, TX.
Technical Abstract: Wildfires in the Intermountain West are and annual event. The introduction and subsequent invasion of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) onto millions of hectares of rangelands throughout the West has resulted in devastating wildfires. With each passing wildfire season more and more critical wildlife habitats are consumed and converted to annual grass dominance. Cheatgrass truncates secondary succession by out competing native perennial grass seedlings for limited moisture and providing a fine textured, early maturing fuel that has increased the frequency of wildfire from an estimated 60-110 years down to 5-10 years in many habitats. The best known method at suppressing cheatgrass, and its’ associated fuels, is through the establishment of long-lived perennial grasses. Range improvement practices through mechanical and chemical applications can improve success rates of rangeland rehabilitation efforts, ultimately benefitting those wildlife species that depend on these habitats. Our research as yielded favorable results from disking cheatgrass in the spring, prior to seed development, and then fallowing the site through the summer and seeding completive/desirable species that fall. This approach resulted in a cheatgrass seed bank reduction of 73%, above-ground cheatgrass density reduction of 83% and a reduction of associated cheatgrass fuel by more than 300%. This mechanical cheatgrass control method resulted in a 975% increase in seeded species (28.8/m²) establishment. Chemical treatments using soil active herbicides like Landmark, Sulfometuron Methyl, have also resulted in significant cheatgrass density reductions as much as 98.7%, and Plateau, Imazapic, 95.6%. These chemical applications applied in the fall and fallowed for one-year along with proper seeding methodologies (fall seeding, seeding depths, selected species) have resulted in significant seeded species establishment which has resulted in as much as 930% reduction in cheatgrass fuels. This type of rangeland rehabilitation success is very beneficial to wildlife species, particularly mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus).