Grazing and fire management for native perennial grass restoration in CA grasslands

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Time-controlled, short-duration, high intensity sheep or cattle grazing for several days in early spring removes substantial amounts of alien annual plant seed while it is still in inflorescence and opens up the sward canopy to allow light to penetrate to young, short-statured seedling perennials. This grazing event must be timed to allow perennial grass regrowth, flowering and seed set before spring soil moisture is exhausted. It must be intense enough to graze off the grass inflorescences of most alien annual grasses. The result is increased live crown cover for mature perennial grasses, reduced decadent dead-center growth forms in bunchgrasses, and improved light availability to tiller bases which promotes basal bud activation and new vegetative and reproductive tiller formation. These perennial grass responses constitute what managers term improved plant vigor.

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