Invasive Annual Grass Management and Wildfire

Invasive annual grasses (IAGs) fuel large, frequent wildfires in the sagebrush steppe. Research continually adds to our understandings of the biophysical processes driving these dynamics. Yet it is difficult for individual landowners and managers, communities and organizations to prioritize and coordinate their activities to address IAGs. This requires a proactive mindset in which all entities’ management activities are synergistic and support ecosystem resilience. Given the different landownerships, values, and capacities present in the sagebrush steppe as well as the spatial and temporal complexity of managing IAGs and their associated effects, there was an evident need to synthesize the current state of knowledge on IAG management and offer on-the-ground examples. OSU faculty led and/or supported efforts to develop two outputs to prompt new coordinated, preemptive actions to address IAGs, a workshop held in 2020 and an 11-article Special issue in the journal Rangelands, stemming from the workshop

2022 12-Article Special Issue in Rangelands

Following the Workshop, organizers identified a need to preserve the Workshop’s contents as a cohesive, citable record of the current state of knowledge on IAG management in the sagebrush steppe, frameworks being used to prioritize and sustain management efforts, and the experiences of those managing IAGs and wildfire. In response, OSU faculty served as Guest Editors and article coordinators to produce a sponsored Special Issue of Rangelands. All articles are published and free to access by clicking the orange button below.

2020 Workshop

In December 2020, OSU faculty assisted High Desert Partnership (HDP) and the Sage Grouse Conservation Partnership (SageCon) organize a 2-day virtual workshop, “The Invasive Annual Grass Workshop.” Find workshop resources by clicking the button below, including recordings of the talks and panels held during the two day event, graphic notes taken during the workshop and information on the presenters:

Google Earth Pro, GIS Online Course for Rangeland Management

Private and public land managers across the western sagebrush steppe closely observe how management impacts plant communities. Sometimes these observations are documented while other times they are not. Global Information Systems (GIS), such as Google Earth Pro (GEP) provide a powerful digital mapping platform to allow land managers to track, visualize and share inventoried and monitored data. Maps can serve as effective communication tools and GIS can allow managers to incorporate free extensive remotely sensed data that can aide land managers in rangeland management decisions, such as historic fire layers, soils data and fine fuels information.

We are launching an online course in Late Summer/ Fall of 2021 to equip land owners and natural resource professionals with a science-based framework and skills to develop land management plans and virtual maps of lands they manage. The online course will walk learners through principles needed to create effective land management plans using a Threat-based Land Management ecological framework, as well as skills directly related to creating a virtual map of managed land within GEP.

Year-round Field Identification of Common Northern Great Basin Grasses

Identifying grasses throughout the northern Great Basin is challenging during the growing season, and even more difficult in the other 9-10 months of the year. This photo guide provides detailed identification information for common grass species that can be used to identify grasses year round when seed heads might not be visible. Many of these grasses are found throughout the Great Basin. Several can be found throughout the West.

Bunchgrass Phenology: Using Growth Stages of Grasses as Adaptive Grazing Management Tools (Extension Publication)

Livestock grazing in the high desert involves a careful balance of sustainable vegetation management in a shifting environment. Knowing which plant stages are most sensitive to grazing can help managers optimize their grazing strategy. Learn how with this photo guide to bunchgrass phenology

Western Roots Diving into a sagebrush seas of diversity (Extension Publication)

We recently published educational materials to aide in sagebrush-steppe ecology education. Plant displays and an accompanying publication highlighting the importance of functional groups and plant root systems are also available.

Threat-Based Land Management in the Northern Great Basin: A Manager’s Guide (Extension Publication)

We were involved in the recent publication of a guide that provides a framework for land managers to efficiently identify, discuss and address landscape-level threats. This threats-based ecosystem management decision support system aims to help landowners and managers develop science-based management objectives and actions for rangeland landscapes. Continued trainings, workshops and publications are planned for 2020.

Threat-Based Land Management in the Northern Great Basin: A Field Guide (Extension Publication)

We also helped develop a field guide version of the manager’s guide which condenses the more in-depth manager’s guide into a full-color waterproof double sided poster with a decision tree to help manager’s map the threats to sagebrush ecosystems into various states.

Educational Camps:

High Desert Youth Range Camp (High School camp on rangeland ecology)

The organizers of range camp have a passion for our western rangelands and want youth to know how exciting these lands are and how important the management of these lands are to our communities. We have designed range camp for students to get out on the landscape and learn about rangelands in a fun atmosphere. Campers learn about soils, plants, wildlife, GPS units, and talk with ranchers and scientists. OSU is continually involved in range camp, acting as presenters, facilitators, and counselors.

Science in the Sagebrush Steppe (College short course on rangeland ecology)

This college short course draws students and schools from all over the Pacific Northwest, and focuses on the science and management of western rangelands. Students learn from a variety of management professionals and scientists, and work together to develop land management plans for a pasture in the sagebrush steppe. Using lessons learned from talks about soils, plants, wildlife, cattle management, and ecosystem threats, the students develop management objectives and present a management plan to the group. OSU is continually involved in Science in the Sagebrush Steppe, acting as curriculum developers, presenters, facilitators, and counselors.

Extension publication, “Recognizing and Identifying Three Invasive Annual Grasses in the Great Basin Desert (Downy Brome, Medusahead, and Ventenata)”,

This publication focuses on germination and establishment parameters, habitat type, grazing suitability, nonchemical control, and commonly applied herbicides of annual grasses, with footnote on which are currently approved on BLM managed grounds, accompanied by images at various life stages.

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