You are here

A science framework for conservation and restoration of the sagebrush biome - Management applications

Date: April 12, 2019

Part 2 of the Science Framework provides the science basis, management considerations, and trade-offs for on-the-ground decision making in sagebrush ecosystems


Background

Widespread concern about conservation of sagebrush ecosystems and sage-grouse creates expectations that natural resource agencies will manage sagebrush habitat effectively to conserve sage-grouse across the 11 western States encompassed by the sagebrush biome. An extensive, collaborative State and Federal partnership of more than 30 individuals has led to a two-part Scientific Framework for addressing threats to sagebrush ecosystems and associated species.

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.

Research

The Science Framework is comprised of two volumes:

Part 1 – Science Basis and Application (USFS General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-360, April 2017) provides tools for prioritizing areas for management and determining effective management strategies across the sagebrush biome.

  • Recent research has provided the basis for characterizing sagebrush ecosystems according to their ecological resilience to disturbance (ability to recovery) and resistance to invasive annual grasses. This has enabled development of an approach which couples information on resilience and resistance with that on species habitats and threats to sagebrush ecosystems in order to prioritize conservation and restoration actions in those areas where they are likely to have the greatest benefits and to determine the most appropriate management strategies. This approach is detailed in Part 1 of the Science Framework on the science basis and applications.

Part 2 – Management Applications for the Conservation and Restoration Strategy (USFS General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-389, April 2019) provides management considerations and tradeoffs for applying the information and tools in Part 1. 

  • Part 2 of the Science Framework focuses on management considerations and tradeoffs for applying the scientific information, geospatial analyses, and decision-support tools in Part 1. The information in Part 2 can be used by managers and stakeholders to help refine resource management priorities at the mid-scale, step down mid-scale priorities to the local scale, and then select the most appropriate management strategies. The emphasis of Part 2 is on key resource management topics, including monitoring and adaptive management, climate adaptation, wildfire and vegetation management, nonnative invasive plant management, application of National Seed Strategy concepts, livestock grazing management, wild horse and burro considerations, and tradeoffs and integration.

 

Key Findings

  • The Science Framework was developed by state, federal, and university collaborators to provide a transparent, ecologically-defensible approach for making policy and management decisions to reduce threats to sagebrush ecosystems and sagebrush dependent species, with an emphasis on Greater sage-grouse.

    Sagebrush transplant seedling
    Sagebrush transplant seedling (photo credit Stacy Moore - Institute Applied Ecology)

  • Part 1 provides a geospatial process for assessing and mapping resilience and resistance, Greater sage-grouse habitat, and the dominant threats that can be used to prioritize the areas for management; a sage-grouse habitat resilience and resistance matrix helps managers evaluate risks and determine appropriate management strategies.

  • Part 2 provides targeted information on each management topic with the necessary considerations for effective management at mid- to local-scales, including: the basis for identifying threats and selecting project areas; the best available information on management options, effectiveness, and potential environmental consequences; and administrative realities.

  • Sagebrush seedling drilling post fire
    Sagebrush seedling drilling post fire (photo credit Chad Boyd)

    The concepts and approaches in the Science Framework have been used by the Forest Service in developing fire risk assessments, incorporated into the Department of the Interior’s Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy, and used by the BLM to develop a multi-year program of work for BLM managed lands in the western part of the sagebrush biome.



Principal Investigators: 
Principal Investigators - External: 
Michele Crist - USDI Bureau of Land Management
Karen Prentice - USDI Bureau of Land Management
Susan L. Phillips - USDI U.S. Geological Survey
Lief A. Wiechman - USDI Fish and Wildlife Service
Forest Service Partners: 
Francis Kilkenny, Rocky Mountain Research Station
Linda Joyce, Rocky Mountain Research Station
Mike Ielmini and Hope Woodward, National Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
Mary M. Rowland, Pacific Northwest Research Station
External Partners: 
Matthew L. Brooks, Seth M. Munson, David A. Pyke, USDI U.S. Geological Survey

Jared Bybee, John Carlson, Zoe Davidson, Fred Edwards, Louisa Evers, Paul Griffin, Emily J. Kachergis, Michael G. “Sherm” Karl, Jonathon A. Skinner, USDI Bureau of Land Management

Gail Collins, Lindy Garner, Sarah M. Kulpa, USDI Fish and Wildlife Service

Kenneth E. Mayer, Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Jacob D. Hennig, University of Wyoming
Research Location: 
Northern Region (R1); Rocky Mountain Region (R2); Southwestern Region (R3); Intermountain Region (R4); Pacific Southwest Region (R5); Pacific Northwest Region (R6)