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Recovery of sagebrush grass vegetation following wildfire


, : Recovery of sagebrush grass vegetation following wildfire. Journal of Range Management 38(2): 131-134

Most studies of the impacts of fire in sagebrush-grass vegetation in the Great basin have involved recovery on sites seriously depleted of native perennial brushgrasses. The usual recommendation is to promptly seed such areas artificially. This is costly, not always successful, and if unnecessary, could produce no more than a natural recovery. The natural recovery of a good condition sagebrush-grass site in central Utah [USA] was monitored for 2 years after a mid-summer wildfire. Total plant cover 1 year aftr the fire was similar to that before the fire and on unburned controls. Annual herbaceous growth 1 year later was almost twice that before the fire. Most of the plant growth the first year was due to cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). By the second year after fire, however, the perennial bunchgrasses had cover and production levels near those recorded prior to the burn. Two years after the fire, total grazable forage was 2.5 times that before the fire. Total precipitation, however, had been higher than average both years. Sagebrush-grass sites in good condition may be improved for cattle production with a few years of livestock exclusion following wildfire. Prescribed or controlled burns would probably be appropriate on similar high condition rangelands if cattle grazing is the dominant use and conflicts with wildfire are minor.

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