SageSTEP Blog

Wildfire and SageSTEP: an inevitable collision

Over the years, other wildfires have burned close to or slightly into other SageSTEP sites. Last year, half of the mechanical plot of the Blue Mountain site also burned in the Steele Fire (46,000 acres burned in total). Over the years, wildfires have burned up to the edge of our Saddle Mountain site (2018 Wahluke Slope and Saddle Mountain Fires), Rock Creek site (2010 Poker Jim Fire), and the Onaqui site (2017 Onaqui Complex Fire). All told, of 20 original SageSTEP sites, 8 of them, or 40%, have experienced wildfire, either within or adjacent to their plots in the 12 years since the project began. This certainly demonstrates the primacy of fire in sagebrush steppe country of the interior west, especially in recent years – but what does it mean for the research?

Tree Removal and Grass Response: Linking Vegetation with Available Soil Water

This year, SageSTEP researchers are engaged in an effort to compile a number of scientific papers as a special feature in the open-source journal Ecosphere. This includes papers on vegetation, fuels and fire behavior, soils, hydrology, and biodiversity. To date, two papers have been accepted, and several more are in the review process. This fall, the collection of ten papers will available for all interested parties on the Ecosphere website.

Do fuel treatments modify fire behavior in the sagebrush steppe?

Invasive species, land cover change, altered fire regimes, and a changing climate interact to imperil sagebrush steppe ecosystems that are critically important for local economies, as well as for species of conservation concern (e.g. Greater sage-grouse). One of the major challenges in sagebrush steppe conservation is altered fire regimes and the resultant uncharacteristic fire behavior now widely exhibited across the sagebrush biome. The increasing emphasis on sagebrush conservation and the reduction of large,  invasive grass-fueled wildfires suggests that increased use of fuel treatments could be beneficial. While expansion of invasive annual grasses is creating more fire-prone situations across the sagebrush biome, increasing shrub cover threatens to outcompete understory native

Wildfire and SageSTEP: an inevitable collision

Over the years, other wildfires have burned close to or slightly into other SageSTEP sites. Last year, half of the mechanical plot of the Blue Mountain site also burned in the Steele Fire (46,000 acres burned in total). Over the years, wildfires have burned up to the edge of our Saddle Mountain site (2018 Wahluke Slope and Saddle Mountain Fires), Rock Creek site (2010 Poker Jim Fire), and the Onaqui site (2017 Onaqui Complex Fire). All told, of 20 original SageSTEP sites, 8 of them, or 40%, have experienced wildfire, either within or adjacent to their plots in the 12 years since the project began. This certainly demonstrates the primacy of fire in sagebrush steppe country of the interior west, especially in recent years – but what does it mean for the research?

Tree Removal and Grass Response: Linking Vegetation with Available Soil Water

This year, SageSTEP researchers are engaged in an effort to compile a number of scientific papers as a special feature in the open-source journal Ecosphere. This includes papers on vegetation, fuels and fire behavior, soils, hydrology, and biodiversity. To date, two papers have been accepted, and several more are in the review process. This fall, the collection of ten papers will available for all interested parties on the Ecosphere website.

Do fuel treatments modify fire behavior in the sagebrush steppe?

Invasive species, land cover change, altered fire regimes, and a changing climate interact to imperil sagebrush steppe ecosystems that are critically important for local economies, as well as for species of conservation concern (e.g. Greater sage-grouse). One of the major challenges in sagebrush steppe conservation is altered fire regimes and the resultant uncharacteristic fire behavior now widely exhibited across the sagebrush biome. The increasing emphasis on sagebrush conservation and the reduction of large,  invasive grass-fueled wildfires suggests that increased use of fuel treatments could be beneficial. While expansion of invasive annual grasses is creating more fire-prone situations across the sagebrush biome, increasing shrub cover threatens to outcompete understory native

Contact

Lisa Ellsworth
Project Co-coordinator
Dpt. Fisheries & Wildlife
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR  97330
Email
(541) 737-0008

Beth Newingham
Project Co-coordinator
GB Rangelands Research
USDA Ag. Res. Service
Reno, NV 89512
Email
(775) 784-6057 ext. 233

Lael Gilbert
Outreach Coordinator
Utah State University
5215 Old Main Hill
Logan, Utah 84322-5215
Email
(435) 797-8455

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