Fact Sheet / Brief

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Maximizing range management effectiveness with PhenoMap

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Timing is everything, especially when it comes to the complex ecological interactions between plants and the environment. For range managers concerned with maintaining the integrity and productivity of rangelands, it is critical to monitor the seasonal development and condition of grasses and other vegetation on which cattle graze. PhenoMap is a new Web-based tool that managers can use to assess the production and location of high quality forage. It uses satellite imagery to address the need for near-real-time information about plant life cycle events over large spatial areas.

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Rethinking the restoration of resilience for ecosystems outside their historical range of variation

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Resilience goals should be updated to better apply to 21st century ecosystems. They propose a concept of scaled resilience, which incorporates scales of time, space, and biological level of organization. By measuring disturbance and post-disturbance ecosystem responses in all three dimensions, scaled resilience models can be grounded by data that are much more useful to land managers than simple comparisons to reference site conditions.

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Managing for resilience during climate change

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Making lands resilient to climate change has become a legal mandate for US Forest Service land planners (2012 USFS Planning Rule). However, interpreting and applying the directive is challenging because the term “resilience” is rather vague. It is diluted by a variety of definitions in the literature, as well as executed differently in diverse ecosystems by a variety of specialists.

To better grasp how USFS staff interpreted and applied the directive, twenty-six Southwestern Region USFS planners and mangers were interviewed for 30-60 minutes each. The semi-structured interviews were then coded to identify themes and trends. Overall, inductive content analysis of the coded interview data showed that the interviewees had three main areas of concern over the difficulty in reporting and implementing the resilience directive: 1) definitions and scale, 2) flexibility and specificity, and 3) the resilience to climate change paradox.

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Linking diverse terminology to vegetation type-conversion

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Ecosystems worldwide are facing complex interacting stressors that are leading to rapid and potentially irreversible change. Many of these changes involve vegetation type-conversion in various stages and forms. A variety of terms are applied to changes in ecosystems around the world to describe some aspect of long-lasting changes in plant communities. Here we evaluate a representative list of analogous terms for processes and patterns involved in vegetation type-conversion, highlighting similarities and differences. The list illustrates a common problem in ecology, viz. how similar terminology may actually describe different aspects of complex processes. Linking this terminology under a unified, umbrella concept of vegetation type conversion and placing it into the context of an ecological resilience framework, including community reorganization, may help resolve research agendas and conservation efforts.

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Weed-suppressive bacteria- A factsheet

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Weed-Suppressive Bacteria, or WSB, are bacteria strains of the soil bacterium Pseudomonas flourescens (D7, ACK55, and MB906) developed and marketed as a natural way to control exotic grasses, such as cheatgrass. In the late 1900s and early 2000s, scientists began experiments that looked for biological ways to selectively eliminate or inhibit growth of exotic annual grasses.

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When the fire starts: A science-based framework for risk-based incident response

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Potential Operational Delineations (PODs) is a spatial wildfire planning framework that brings together operational fire responses and landscape management goals from Forest Planning documents. The PODs risk-based framework helps managers weigh a portfolio of landscape values, including human assets and natural resources, current conditions, responder safety, and likely fire outcomes to identify appropriate fire management objectives. Across the country, more than 30 National Forests have begun developing and implementing this planning framework with local partners complementing the Shared Stewardship efforts.

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Western roots: Diving into a sagebrush sea of diversity

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What may appear at first glance as a sea of sagebrush is in reality a complex and diverse ecosystem with a wide variety of plants and animals. The sagebrush steppe teems with life, but threats such as wildfire, grazing and invasive species are affecting the resilience of rangeland across the Northwest. Learn more about the groups of plants that make up a healthy rangeland ecosystem.

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Long-term cheatgrass reduction with indaziflam in sagebrush

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Indaziflam (Rejuvra®, Bayer) is a pre-emergent herbicide that can manage annual grass seed banks and provide long-term reductions with minimal harm to established perennial vegetation. Indaziflam provided significant, long-term reductions in cheatgrass cover and density in invaded sagebrush-grasslands in western Wyoming without negative effects on native vegetation species richness. Observations from the site after an unplanned wildfire suggest that treatment three years earlier may have prevented the fire from burning significant areas of two large aerial treatment plots, likely by reducing the amount and continuity of fine fuel. These results suggest that indaziflam may help managers mitigate the impacts of invasion and proactively protect intact shrublands from cheatgrass-altered fire regimes.

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Threat-based land management in the northern Great Basin: A field guide

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Sagebrush ecosystems in the northern Great Basin face threats from invasive annual grasses and expanding conifers. Land managers need to work at large spatial scales to address these two ecological threats, but have limited resources to do so. This guide provides a framework for land managers to efficiently identify, discuss and address landscape-level threats. It is not an
instruction manual.

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Biochar potential to enhance forest resilience, seedling quality, and nursery efficiency

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Land managers face a mounting variety of challenges, including how to efficiently dispose of excessive woody residues on forest sites (especially in the Western United States), maintain and improve soil productivity, improve forest resilience to changes in climate (especially as it pertains to drought and fire), and increase the effectiveness of reforestation activities. The use of biochar, a charcoal that is not readily degraded and is made specifically for land application, may have a role in meeting these challenges. Moreover, biochar may provide nursery managers with opportunities to produce seedlings for reforestation and restoration in a more sustainable way, particularly by reducing irrigation inputs, as evidenced through several trials summarized here.

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