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Project ID: 04-2-1-77

Year: 2004

Date Started: 06/02/2004

Date Completed: 09/23/2007

Title: Using Cattle as Fuel Reduction Agents and Perennial Grass Stands in Northern Nevada

Project Proposal Abstract: Wildland fires are increasing in size and frequency in much of the Great Basin, with resultant impacts to native plant species, watersheds, wildlife/fisheries, and livestock. In the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Winnemucca District in northern Nevada, approximately 60% of the Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis) habitat, vital to sagebrush obligate wildlife species and to livestock, has been lost as a result of wildfire. Untreated burned areas typically become dominated by cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and many rehabilitated areas become dominated by crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum, A. desertorum). There is a need for low-cost methods to reduce the fuel loading/fire spread in these cheatgrass-dominated and crested wheatgrass-dominated areas. The purpose of this project is to work with local ranchers and land managers in the BLM Winnemucca District to determine the effectiveness of using cattle as fuel reduction agents (Task 1 of AFP 2004-2). Specific objectives are to: 1) evaluate intensive cattle grazing as a method for reducing the fire hazard of cheatgrass and crested wheatgrass stands; 2) evaluate intensive cattle grazing as a method for reducing the seed bank of cheatgrass; 3) determine the cost effectiveness of cattle grazing as a fuel reduction treatment; and 4) disseminate experimental results and management implications to land managers and other interested individuals. Field studies will be conducted on allotments in the BLM Winnemucca District. Cheatgrass will be grazed at two levels of utilization (80-90%, and no grazing), and crested wheatgrass at three levels of utilization (50-60%, 80-90%, and no grazing), in the spring (March-May 2005 and 2006) to manipulate live biomass and litter. During grazing periods, utilization will be estimated using an ocular estimate-by-plot method in randomly selected 1 m2 plots. After grazing, randomly selected 1 m2 plots will be clipped to more accurately quantify utilization. Fires will be set to burn into grazed cheatgrass and crested wheatgrass in late summer (August 2005 and 2006), and fuel reduction treatments will be evaluated for their ability to stop or slow fire spread. Seed banks will be quantified for cheatgrass grazing treatments on an annual basis (August 2004-2006). Plots will consist of 40 core samples (5 cm diameter, 4 cm depth) in an 8 X 5 grid with 2.5 m spacings between samples, to assess cheatgrass seed densities. The cost effectiveness of alternative fuel reduction practices (using cattle) and conventional fuel reduction practices (using herbicides and mechanical treatments) will be compared by obtaining data from the BLM Winnemucca Field Office. Field tours for local ranchers and land managers, technical articles, web-based information, and presentations at professional meetings will be used to disseminate research findings. This management approach may allow local land managers to use an inexpensive and readily available resource, cattle, to reduce fuel loads in cheatgrass-dominated and crested wheatgrass-dominated communities in northern Nevada, and much of the Great Basin.

Principal Investigator: Christopher Call

Agency/Organization: Utah State University

Branch or Dept: Department of Wildland Resources

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Federal Cooperator

Nora Devoe

BLM-Bureau of Land Management

Nevada State Office

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Great Basin

There are no project locations identified for this project.

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
    1686 Field Demonstration/Tour  
    3128 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Effects of Intensive Grazing on Fire Behavior, Seed Dynamics, and Composition of Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) Dominated Landscapes
    3129 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Effects of Intensive Grazing on Fire Behavior of Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) Dominated Landscapes
    5866 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Effects of Intensive Grazing on Fire Behavior, Seed Dynamics and Composition of Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) Dominated Landscapes

Supporting Documents

The following supporting documents are available for this project.

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