Location: Northwest Watershed Research CenterTitle: Targeted grazing to reduce fine fuels in the Great Basin
|PELLANT, MIKE - Retired Non ARS Employee|
|ARSIPE, SERGIO - Oregon State University|
|DYER, KATHRYN - Bureau Of Land Management|
|LAUNCHBAUGH, KAREN - University Of Idaho|
Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/17/2019
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Increasingly large, dangerous wildfires continue to occur in the Great Basin threatening flora, fauna, ecological integrity, economic well-being, and rural heritage but fine-fuels management through targeted livestock grazing may provide a proactive strategy to reduce these wildfire threats. Several targeted grazing approaches are being implemented and evaluated by collaborative partnerships using livestock to reduce fine fuels—composed of cheatgrass, medusahead, and ventenata. Promising preliminary results are provided by targeted cattle grazing to create and maintain fuel breaks and, in separate applications, to promote ecological restoration by reducing annual grass fuels and competitive impact on desirable plant species. Future results from these on-going research and demonstration projects will have substantial impact on the management of all Great Basin rangelands including federal, state, tribal, and private lands.
Technical Abstract: Wildfires continue to increase in the Great Basin threatening flora, fauna, ecological integrity, economic well-being, and rural heritage. Fuels management projects are an important proactive approach to reduce wildfire threats that impact federal, state, tribal and private lands. There is a renewed interest in using livestock to reduce fine fuels as another tool in the fuels management toolbox. Several approaches are being implemented and evaluated by collaborative partnerships using livestock to reduce fine fuels—composed of cheatgrass, medusahead, and ventenata. The Bureau of Land Management is supporting three demonstration projects in Nevada, Idaho, and Oregon to strategically reduce fine fuels at a landscape scale using targeted grazing. Livestock permittees are using water and nutrient supplements, herding, and in some cases fencing to meeting fuels reduction objectives (generally two-inch stubble heights) by the beginning of the fire season). An intensive research project has been implemented by the Agricultural Research Service's Northwest Watershed Research Center to evaluate the effects of the grazing on fuel loads, vegetation and soils. Results have been variable in terms of meeting objectives to date given the variability of the spring growth of cheatgrass for the past two years. However, a 2018 wildfire started by lightning burned into an approximately one-mile segment of the T Lazy S targeted grazing fuel break in the Elko District and stopped along the water haul road. The other approach being investigated is using livestock to remove the invasive annual grasses thatch layer and emerging fall growth when desirable perennial plants are dormant (e.g., dormant season grazing) and less susceptible to disturbance. The goal of this livestock management strategy is to increase residual desirable plants, reduce annual grass germination and carryover fine fuel residue. Dormant season grazing studies are being conducted by the University of Nevada Reno, Oregon State University and the Agricultural Research Services Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns, Oregon. Initial results are promising in terms of reducing residual fine fuels and promoting recovery of desirable perennial vegetation. Both strategies will be addressed in this symposium with an emphasis on collaboration, results, lessons learned, challenges and future directions.