Longer-term evaluation of sagebrush restoration after juniper control and herbaceous vegetation trade-offs

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This study compared seeding and not seeding mountain big sagebrush after juniper control (partial cutting followed with burning) in fully developed juniper woodlands (i.e., sagebrush had been largely excluded) at five sites, 7 and 8 yr after seeding. Sagebrush cover averaged ~ 30% in sagebrush seeded plots compared with ~ 1% in unseeded plots 8 yr after seeding, thus suggesting that sagebrush recovery may be slow without seeding after juniper control. Total herbaceous vegetation, perennial grass, and annual forb cover was less where sagebrush was seeded. Thus, there is a trade-off with herbaceous vegetation with seeding sagebrush. Our results suggest that seeding sagebrush after juniper control can accelerate the recovery of sagebrush habitat characteristics, which is important for sagebrush-associated wildlife. We suggest land manager and restoration practitioners consider seeding sagebrush and possibly other shrubs after controlling encroaching trees where residual shrubs are lacking after control.

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