FORT COLLINS, Colo., Nov. 29, 2016 – Researchers released a new decision support process to help with the task of addressing threats to sagebrush ecosystems and habitats across the range of Gunnison sage-grouse and the eastern range of the Greater sage-grouse. These threats include persistent ecosystem threats such as invasive annual grasses and wildland fire that interact with land uses and energy development. Determining the most appropriate strategies for addressing these threats poses a major challenge for land managers.
An interagency team of scientists and managers led by USDA Forest Service research ecologist Jeanne Chambers developed a new multi-scale approach that uses resilience science and sage-grouse habitat requirements to improve conservation planning.
The report, Using Resilience and Resistance Concepts to Manage Threats to Sagebrush Ecosystems, Gunnison Sage-Grouse, and Greater Sage-Grouse in Their Eastern Range: A Strategic Multi-Scale Approach, allows managers to predict how sagebrush ecosystems will respond to both disturbance and management actions in areas that support sage-grouse. Using this approach, managers can better assess habitat threats, target areas for treatment, and develop appropriate management strategies.
As stated by Chambers and her colleagues, “the goal of this new approach is to ensure that enough of the right actions are implemented in the right places, consistently through time, to restore and maintain functioning sagebrush ecosystems and to conserve Gunnison sage-grouse and Greater sage-grouse.”
The approach outlined in this report, as well as in a 2014 report covering the western portion of the range, was used to develop an initial Science Framework for the Conservation and Restoration Strategy of the 2015 Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3336 on Rangeland Fire Prevention, Management and Restoration. The Science Framework is currently being reviewed and the final Science Framework expected in early 2017.
Chambers and several other Forest Service scientists, whose research on sagebrush ecosystems span over 30 years, are major contributors to the DOI SO 3336. They are part of the vital partnership of scientists and managers representing federal and state agencies and universities working together to provide information and tools for science-based adaptive management to conserve and restore sagebrush ecosystems. Authors of this report include scientists and managers from the U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Wyoming Game and Fish, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and the University of Wyoming.
Funding for this report came from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and Bureau of Land Management.
You can download a copy of this report at www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/53201.
You can read the Science Spotlight feature on this project at www.fs.fed.us/rmrs/science-spotlights/legacy-sagebrush-science-supports-integrated-rangeland-fire-management-strategy.