Wildfire Impacts, and Post-Fire Rehabilitation and Restoration

Science Center Objects

Land use and unintentional (e.g., wildfire) disturbances are increasingly dominant factors affecting land-use planning and management of semiarid landscapes, particularly in sagebrush steppe rangelands. In the last 10-20 years, wildfires are occurring more frequently and increasingly in very large burn patches.

Major conservation investments are often directed towards stabilizing soils and promoting native or desirable perennial plant communities that support wildlife and sustain livestock values under current and future conditions. My research group is evaluating risks of soil erosion and exotic-plant invasions, and approaches for increasing the effectiveness of post-fire seeding, herbicide applications, and also effects of grazing-resumption timing.  Our activities contribute to the information base needed by managers to preserve or restore resistance and resilience to burned rangeland landscapes.  Research sub-topics include: 

Post-fire seeding, planting, and herbicide spraying effectiveness; finding ways to improve success

Seed-source effects, determined from actual seedings and through common-garden studies

Post-fire wind erosion: causes, consequences, and management implications

Developing monitoring approaches for post-fire landscapes

Assessing bunchgrass maturity and readiness for grazing