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Management of the majority of public rangeland in the Great Basin and Columbia-Snake River Plateau falls under the authority of the Bureau of Land Management. The flora of this land ranges from highly diverse native plant communities to deteriorated lands dominated by exotic annuals. Approximately nine percent of the BLM’s 78 million acres of public land in this region is degraded to such a degree that changes in land management alone will not result in significant improvement. The BLM intends to restore native plant communities on these deteriorated lands, but current revegetation techniques used to establish introduced perennial grasses are often unsuccessful in establishing native plants. On lands where native communities exist, the BLM desires to maintain and to enhance native plant diversity. Encroachment of highly competitive exotic forbs and annual grasses in native plant communities raises concern among managers over the appropriate management to maintain native communities. Coupled with these concerns are impacts on vegetation of the documented increase in CO, and of predicted global climate change. The BLM therefore recognizes the need for research to understand and solve these problems and for the results of this research to be transferred to land managers. The Great Basin and Columbia Plateau region consists of two major ecosystems: the sagebrush ecosystem, generally located in the northern half of the region; and the salt-desert shrub ecosystem, located in the southern half. These ecosystems differ greatly in their composition of plant species and in their climatic and soil conditions. Therefore, techniques developed in one ecosystem may not be directly transferred to the other ecosystem. We propose to initially concentrate studies in the Wyoming big sagebrush communities of the sagebrush ecosystem, because: (1) these communities represent a large amount of the BLM lands in Oregon, Idaho, northeastern California, Nevada and Utah; and (2) the low precipitation within these communities limits the success of standard revegetation methods. Shadscale communities of the salt-desert shrub ecosystem were given the next priority for study. These communities are a major component in four of the five participating states. Since the shadscale communities differ greatly from sagebrush communities, studies of shadscale communities will be initiated when the project reaches full funding. Similar studies to those proposed here for sagebrush communities would be conducted on this new suite of species and environmental conditions. Low sagebrush communities would be given the lowest priority and are unlikely to be initiated. Plant associations in low sagebrush and Wyoming sagebrush communities are similar and thus promising techniques for the Wyoming sagebrush communities may work well in low sagebrush communities and may be attempted later in the project.


TIN: OR-936-01