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Project ID: 16-1-03-13

Year: 2016

Date Started: 07/01/2016

Ending Date:  08/31/2019

Title: An integrated approach to identifying and leveraging factors that enhance sagebrush restoration success in the Great Basin

Project Proposal Abstract: Restoration of big sagebrush after fire is one of the greatest conservation needs and challenges in the Great Basin. The proposed research will generate correlative and experimental insight on key factors that can either be planned for or manipulated to increase sagebrush seeding or planting success following wildfire. Natural factors such as climate, weather, elevation, and topography can be leveraged in deciding where and when to deploy seeds or seedlings. Management factors such as herbicides to control exotic seed emergence, drill seeding of herbs, and sagebrush seed-source selection are increasingly recognized or hypothesized to influence sagebrush establishment. Understanding variability in recovery of sagebrush and its community is essential to devising metrics and objectives for seeding and planting success, and the knowledge and metrics need to consider both the short-term scope of post-fire treatment projects and the long-term recovery period of sagebrush communities. Post-fire sagebrush restoration success will be evaluated with 1) a 2016 resampling of 72 treatments applied from 1987-2009 across the Great Basin and originally measured in the 2011 JFSP Chronosequence project and 2) intensive sampling and experimental isolation of key factors within the 2015 Soda Wildfire (285k acres). The extensive sampling across the Great Basin will provide assessments of sagebrush recovery trajectories at the landscape level as they are influenced by whether or not native sagebrush subspecies were used, soil condition and properties, the surrounding plant community as affected by co-treatments such as herbicide and drill seeding, and site climate and post-fire weather. Experimental isolation of the effects of management treatments such as herbicide or drill seeding and seed-source selection have been made possible by create of control leave areas that are untreated and replicate polygons of the treatments. Sagebrush recruitment relative to gradients in soil temperature and moisture regimes will be measured to help fill key empirical data needs regarding the management need to know where thresholds in plant resistance, resilience, and restorability occur on the landscape (ie, FIAT). We will also establish common garden experiments that compare the following within single sites to allow assessments of how different seed source establishment potential is: 1) the many non-local sagebrush seed sources used by the BLM for the Soda fire, 2) seeds collected from the surrounding region, and 3) truly local seeds from within the Soda burn area. Our landscape-scale methods will also be useful in developing standards and methods for detecting sagebrush establishment over the vast areas it is seeded in, and thereby improve adaptive learning for future post-fire restoration done by managers. In addition to publications and webinars to the Great Basin Fire Exchange on our findings, we will prepare a field guide on metrics of seeding and planting success that is accompanied by a queriable database of the 72 post-fire seeding projects we will evaluate. This information will help managers define objectives, set expectations, and devise appropriate sampling protocols for assessing success. The proposed research is an outcome of several years of interaction of the BLM, the USFWS, IDFG, the GBLCC, and the USGS. The large sampling needs on the Soda Wildfire will be partially met through several existing volunteer programs and university classes and programs that have already contributed to the project. Our team provides the science-management linkages needed to address the new paradigms and flexibility for post-fire rehabilitation prescribed in DOI Secretarial Order #3336.

Principal Investigator: Matthew J. Germino

Agency/Organization: USGS-Geological Survey

Branch or Dept: FRESC-Forest & Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Molly A. Pope

USGS-Geological Survey

Budget Contact

Robert C. Spain

USGS-Geological Survey

FRESC-Forest & Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center

Co-Principal Investigator

Collin G. Homer

USGS-Geological Survey

EROS Data Center

Co-Principal Investigator

Francis F. Kilkenny

Forest Service

RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Boise

Co-Principal Investigator

Don J. Major

BLM-Bureau of Land Management

Idaho State Office

Co-Principal Investigator

Bryce A. Richardson

Forest Service

RMRS-Shrub Sciences Laboratory

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Great Basin







Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

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