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Matthew J Germino, Cara Applestein, Matt Fisk
The challenges faced in breaking the annual grass-wildfire cycle in the vast sagebrush-steppe deserts of the western US are among the significant in restoration ecology. Despite decades of restoration or rehabilitation interventions and associated research, the area burned annually with inadequate recovery of perennials continues to expand, causing extensive habitat degradation and creating species-conservation concerns. Most management interventions and published studies on this restoration problem have focused on single-intervention treatments and report mixed to low success. More recently, the role of temporal factors such as suitable weather events and their interaction with spatial factors such as soil patchiness are recognized to influence post-fire recovery of perennials in sagebrush steppe. Post-fire restoration is more likely to succeed if these heterogeneities in plant recovery are addressed using the “treat-observe-reflect-revise-repeat” cycle of adaptive management, which requires a longer-term and more programmatic approach than is traditionally been used in restoring burned sagebrush steppe. Several new studies provide examples of how active and passive management treatments can be combined in these longer-term restoration efforts. However, pressing information gaps on how to optimize treatment combinations still remain, such as on how to best combine rest from grazing, herbicides, and seeding treatments to increase desirable perennials and reduce fire-prone annual grasses.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program