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Project ID: 09-1-08-4

Year: 2009

Date Started: 09/01/2009

Date Completed: 12/11/2013

Title: Decision-Support Tools for Conserving Greater Sage-Grouse During Fire and Fuels Management Projects in Pinyon and Juniper Woodlands

Project Proposal Abstract: The configuration, species composition, and connectivity of sagebrush ecosystems across the Intermountain West is changing as a result of expansion of native pinyon and juniper trees, invasion by non-native plants, human land uses, and climate change. Prescribed fire and other fuels management treatments have been suggested as mechanisms to slow expansion of woodlands while increasing habitat quality and quantity for Greater Sage-grouse. This species well may be listed under federal and state endangered species acts in the near future, and already has been designated a species of special concern by the Western Governors Association, the state of Nevada, and other groups. We propose to develop a decision-support tool, an extension of ArcFuels, to assist managers in planning and implementing fire treatments in pinyon and juniper woodlands that will maximize maintenance of sagebrush systems and conservation of Greater Sage-grouse. Tools for optimization of these treatments or for examining tradeoffs among management objectives in pinyonjuniper woodlands are either lacking or are difficult to apply by local personnel. Our objectives are (1) to develop and evaluate graphical conceptual models that present clear hypotheses about responses to fire treatments of vegetation, Greater Sage-grouse, and other sensitive species of sagebrush-associated birds; (2) to develop a spatially explicit decision-support tool that optimizes fire treatments for multiple management objectives; and (3) to use two prescribed fire projects planned by the HumboldtToiyabe National Forest to evaluate application and projections of the decision-support tool. We will concentrate on two watersheds that have been selected for implementation of prescribed burns in 2010, Big Ten Hat Peak and Antelope Peak. Both are located south-central Nevada, in the southern Great Basin Sage-grouse Management Zone. We will expand on the existing capabilities of ArcFuels, a library of ArcGIS macros that is used to rapidly design and evaluate fuels treatments at stand and landscape scales. We will use ArcFuels to link (1) new layers on fire behavior derived with FlamMap, and existing spatial data on fire behavior; (2) high-resolution data on topography, fuels, and vegetation; (3) data on the distributions of Greater Sage-grouse, other sensitive species, and their habitat, and connectivity of those habitats; and (4) transferable rules sets about responses of vegetation and sensitive species to fire treatments. We will work with federal and state agencies during the planning process to develop burn plans based on the spatial analyses performed within ArcFuels. Burns will be designed to optimize targets including viable populations of Greater Sage-grouse, species richness and structural complexity of native vegetation, low probability of invasion of cheatgrass, and survival of older age-classes of woodland. We will use similar study designs and integrate sampling approaches for vegetation, Greater Sage-grouse, and other species of birds within treated and control watersheds. The study design will provide a systems-level understanding of how sagebrush ecosystems can be managed to reduce the probability of severe wildfires and invasion of non-native plants while recovering native understory, minimizing expansion of trees into shrubland, and maintaining viable populations of threatened and endangered species. The proposed project also provides a novel opportunity to extend ArcFuels to incorporate field data on vegetation and to address how different spatial arrangements of fire treatments affect diverse objectives. The information and products from this project will assist USFS, BLM, and other agencies in rapidly locating, designing, and analyzing the potential effects of fire treatments relative to multiple management targets.

Principal Investigator: Erica Fleishman

Agency/Organization: University of California-Davis

Branch or Dept: John Muir Institute of the Environment

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Jeanne C. Chambers

Forest Service

RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Reno

Co-Principal Investigator

Brett G. Dickson

Northern Arizona University

School of Earth Sciences & Environmental Sustainability

Co-Principal Investigator

David Dobkin

High Desert Ecological Research Institute

Federal Cooperator

Jeanne C. Chambers

Forest Service

RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Reno

Federal Fiscal Representative

Debra L Jensen

Forest Service

RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Fort Collins

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Great Basin









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
    93 Book Identification & assessment of habitat quality for mgmt and conservation of terrestrial animals
    94 Book Chapters in Compiled Works Minimizing uncertainty in interpreting responses of butterflies to climate change
view or print go to website 3459 Journal Article Ecosystems
view or print   3460 Journal Article Ecosphere
    7357 Invited Paper/Presentation Application of conservation science to management of public and private lands in the western US
    7358 Invited Paper/Presentation Application of conservation science to management of public and private lands in the western US
    7359 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Proactive management of conservation-reliant species as land use and climate change.
    7360 Invited Paper/Presentation Assessment of current and future connectivity for species and land-cover types
    7361 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Monitoring to inform policy decisions and management actions for large, complex systems
    7362 Invited Paper/Presentation Projecting occupancy and connectivity as land use and climate change
    7363 Invited Paper/Presentation Projecting connectivity in the Great Basin as land use and climate change
    7364 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Incorporating natural history into models of occupancy and connectivity
    7365 Invited Paper/Presentation Projecting connectivity in the Great Basin as land use and climate change
    7366 Invited Paper/Presentation Partnerships for conservation on public and private lands as land use and climate change
    7367 Conference/Symposia/Workshop The impact of climate change on natural ecosystems
    7368 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Discriminating among ecological responses to weather and climate
    7369 Invited Paper/Presentation Deriving practical info about management of Great Basin ecosystems from pretty things with wings
  go to website 7370 Dataset (including spatial) Detections of breeding birds in the Shoshone, Toiyabe, Toquima, and Monitor ranges, Nevada
  go to website 7371 Dataset (including spatial) Presence and absence of butterflies in the Shoshone Mountains and Toiyabe and Toquima ranges, Nevada
  go to website 7372 Dataset (including spatial) Detections of breeding birds in the Shoshone, Toiyabe, Toquima, and Monitor ranges, NV. 2nd Edition.
  go to website 7373 Dataset (including spatial) Presence & absence of butterflies in the Shoshone Mts and Toiyabe & Toquima ranges, NV. 2nd edition.
    7416 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Vegetation resilience and the importance of the herbaceous understory
    7417 Invited Paper/Presentation Understanding the importance of resilience and resistance to restoration of sagebrush rangelands
    7418 Invited Paper/Presentation Sustainable management of piñon and juniper woodlands
    7419 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Resistance to invasive annual grasses in fire prone sagebrush and piñon-juniper ecosystems
    7420 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Managing for resilient ecosystems: examining the options
    7421 Invited Paper/Presentation A strategic approach to managing cheatgrass
    7422 Invited Paper/Presentation Using resilience concepts to manage sage-grouse habitat
    7423 Poster Predicting desert shrub community distributions using climatic water deficit variables
    7424 Poster Advances in modeling species distributions using GIS
    7425 Invited Paper/Presentation Human influences on water-limited landscapes of the western United States
    7426 Invited Paper/Presentation What controls the distribution of trees on water-limited landscapes

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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