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New research provides scientific framework for conserving iconic sagebrush landscapes

Posted date: April 15, 2019

This is the first-ever comprehensive scientific framework for restoring and conserving sagebrush landscapes

April 16, 2019 - An unprecedented conservation effort is underway across 11 Western states to address threats to sagebrush ecosystems and the many species that depend on them. Today, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior released the Science Framework for Conservation and Restoration of the Sagebrush Biome (Part 2). The Science Framework provides a transparent, ecologically responsible approach for making policy and management decisions for sagebrush landscapes. 

The Science Framework provides a transparent, ecologically responsible approach for making policy and management decisions for sagebrush landscapes
The Framework provides an approach for making policy and management decisions for sagebrush landscapes.

“For the first time, we have the ability to prioritize conservation and restoration efforts in those areas where they will provide the greatest ecological benefits and return on investment,” said Jeanne Chambers, a lead author with the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. “New science increases our understanding of the factors that make these expansive ecosystems resilient to disturbances like wildfire and invasive annual grasses.”

The Science Framework is designed to be used by the managers in the field who implement conservation and restoration activities. Key resource topics covered in Part 2 are monitoring and adaptive management, climate adaptation, wildfire and vegetation management, nonnative invasive plant management, application of National Seed Strategy concepts, livestock grazing management, and wild horse and burro considerations.

“The information provided in Part 2 helps managers identify specific project areas and determine management strategies and tools to achieve conservation and restoration objectives,” said Michele Crist, a lead author with the Bureau of Land Management.

Sagebrush ecosystem in the Toiyabe Range, Nevada (photo: Jeanne Chambers, USDA Forest Service)
Sagebrush ecosystem in the Toiyabe Range, Nevada (photo: Jeanne Chambers, USDA Forest Service)

“This important Science Framework provides Western land managers – federal, state, local, tribal and private – with leading-edge, science-based tools to proactively conserve America’s sagebrush ecosystem and its rich wildlife, economic, and cultural resources,” said Lief Wiechman, co-author with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It is anticipated that the core concepts and approaches in the Science Framework will be widely used to inform emerging strategies to conserve sagebrush ecosystems, sagebrush-dependent wildlife species, and ecosystem services, such as forage for livestock and recreational opportunities. The Science Framework has already been used by the USDA Forest Service to develop fire risk assessments for all Forest Service lands with Greater sage-grouse. Its concepts were also incorporated into the Department of the Interior’s Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy and have been used to develop a multi-year program of work for Bureau of Land Management lands in the western part of the sagebrush biome.

Related Publications

Chambers, Jeanne C. ; Beck, J.L. ; Bradford, J.B. ; Bybee, J. ; Campbell, S. ; Carlson, J. ; Christiansen, T.J. ; Clause, K.J. ; Collins, G. ; Crist, M.R. ; Dinkins, J.B. ; Doherty, K.E. ; Edwards, F. ; Espinosa, S. ; Griffin, K.A. ; Griffin, P. ; Haas, Jessica R. ; Hanser, S.E. ; Havlina, D.W. ; Henke, K.F. ; Hennig, J.D. ; Joyce, Linda A. ; Kilkenny, Francis F. ; Kulpa, S.M. ; Kurth, L.L. ; Maestas, J.D. ; Manning, M. ; Mayer, K.E. ; Mealor, B.A. ; McCarthy, C. ; Pellant, M. ; Perea, M.A. ; Prentice, K.L. ; Pyke, D.A. ; Wiechman, L.A. ; Wuenschel, A. , 2017

The Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) is one of seven units within the U.S. Forest Service Research and Development. RMRS maintains 14 field laboratories throughout a 12-state territory encompassing parts of the Great Basin, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, and the Great Plains. RMRS also administers and conducts research on 14 experimental forests, ranges and watersheds and maintains long-term research databases for these areas. While anchored in the geography of the West our research is global in scale. To find out more about the RMRS go to www.fs.fed.us/rmrs. You can also follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/usfs_rmrs.

 

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Contacts: 
Jennifer Hayes
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