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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345113

Research Project: Invasive Species Assessment and Control to Enhance Sustainability of Great Basin Rangelands

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Title: Timing of grazing to reduce cheatgrass fuels

Author
item Clements, Darin - Charlie
item Harmon, Daniel - Dan

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/29/2018
Publication Date: 1/29/2018
Citation: Clements, D.D., Harmon, D.N. 2018. Timing of grazing to reduce cheatgrass fuels. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts. 71:399.

Interpretive Summary: None

Technical Abstract: The introduction and subsequent invasion of cheatgrass onto millions of acres of Great Basin rangelands has revolutionized secondary succession by providing a fine-textured early maturing fuel that has increased the chance, rate, spread and season of wildfires. With such vast acreages of landscapes being converted to cheatgrass dominance, resource managers and land owners are facing the daunting task of reducing wildfire risks caused by associated cheatgrass fuels. The grazing animal is the only real fuels management tool available on these vast landscape scales. We started a preliminary investigation of testing the ability of cattle to reduce fuels loads in northern Nevada. We hypothesized that spring grazing would reduce cheatgrass more than fall grazing, but that perennial grass species would experience a higher reduction rate than with fall grazing treatments. We tested a fall grazing treatment in 2014 and a spring grazing treatment in 2017 in which both grazing treatments significantly decreased cheatgrass fuel loads. Grazing from September 7-27-2014 reduced cheatgrass from 1,570 lbs/acre down to 138 lbs/acre, or 91.2% reduction. Grazing from May 6-26-2017 resulted in a cheatgrass fuels reduction of 95.8%, 1,674 lbs down to 71 lbs/acre. The 2014 fall grazing treatment resulted in a reduction of 8.6% in perennial grass density, 5.8 down to 5.3/m², whereas the 2017 spring grazing treatment recorded a reduction of 0.01%, 4.77 down to 4.7/m². The use of cattle to decrease cheatgrass fuel loads can be accomplished and if properly monitored will not be detrimental to the existing perennial grass community.