Treatments to Address Wildfires and Invasive Annual Grasses in Sage-Grouse Habitat
Maintaining or restoring Greater Sage-Grouse (sage-grouse) habitat is a high priority for federal land management agencies in the Great Basin. The Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service, with the help of many other entities, developed a tool (Fire and Invasive Assessment Tool (FIAT)) to assist managers in identifying higher priority habitats within selected sage-grouse Priority Areas of Concern (PACs) and the management strategies needed to conserve or restore habitat. Specifically, this assessment assists managers in reducing the threats to Greater Sage?Grouse resulting from impacts of invasive annual grasses, wildfires, and conifer expansion. The cornerstone of the FIAT protocol is recent scientific research on resistance and resilience of Great Basin ecosystems combined with landscape cover of sagebrush. By assessing the resistance to invasive annual grasses and resilience after disturbance mangers are better able to prioritize sage-grouse habitats for conservation and restoration. Once the prioritization process is completed, spatially explicit management strategies are identified and prioritized. Management strategies are types of actions or treatments that managers typically implement to resolve resource issues. They can be divided into proactive approaches (e.g., fuels management and habitat recovery/restoration) and reactive approaches (e.g., fire operations and post?fire rehabilitation). Implementing scientifically sound and effective management strategies are critical for success. The Joint Fire Science Program’s Great Basin Fire Science Exchange and SageSTEP projects are two programs that have advanced the science and science delivery needed by managers to meet the challenge of managing or restoring sagebrush steppe habitat. Finally, the recent Department of Interior Secretarial Order 3336 (Rangeland Fire Prevention, Management, and Restoration) and associated implementation plan provides a blueprint to further advance an “all hands, all lands” approach to sagebrush habitat loss in the Great Basin.