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Sage Steppe Restoration: Reconciling Perspectives
Wendell Gilgert, USDA-NRCS-West National Technical Service Center, Portland, OR
The impacts of fragmentation, energy development, invasive plant species, agricultural
development, exurban development, wild fires, and climate change are rapidly changing the face of the sage\steppe landscape. The proliferation of these and other environmental stressors have presented those who live and use the sage/steppe regions of the Intermountain West with increasing challenges related managing, restoring, and in some cases, preserving these lands.
The lack of a unified vision for use of the sage/steppe biome, further complicate management, restoration, and preservation decisions and actions. Some of the same age-old dichotomies that exist along the spectrum of preservation to exploitation for old growth forests, riparian woodlands, prairie grasslands and freshwater wetlands, also exist for the sage steppe biome. Further complicating decision-making related to management, restoration, or preservation of the sage steppe landscape is that there is no existing template to manage, restore, or preserve the sage/steppe landscape in a sustainable manner. Where an older sagebrush community may be decadent, and thus in the eyes of some, unproductive, it may be viewed as essential habitat by others. How and when can divergent points of view be reconciled, if ever?
An examination of traditional, existing, and evolving tools that offer promise for a more objective, and perhaps, less divisive framework for making informed decisions will be presented.