The sage-grouse habitat mortgage: effective conifer management in space and time
This study estimates that fire has approximately twice the treatment life of cutting at time horizons approaching 100 yr, but, has high up-front conservation costs due to temporary loss of sagebrush. Cutting has less up-front conservation costs because sagebrush is unaffected, but it is more expensive over longer management time horizons because of decreased durability. Managing conifers within sage-grouse habitat is difficult because of the necessity to maintain the majority of the landscape in sagebrush habitat and because the threshold for negative conifer effects occurs fairly early in the successional process. The time needed for recovery of sagebrush creates limits to fire use in managing sage-grouse habitat. Utilizing a combination of fire and cutting treatments is most financially and ecologically sustainable over long time horizons involved in managing conifer-prone sage-grouse habitat.