What role does prescribed fire play in managing annual bromes in Northern Great Plains grasslands?

Science Center Objects

Prescribed fire is used in grasslands throughout northern Great Plains (NGP) National Park Service units (parks) to manage fuel loads, control nonnative species, and maintain a vital ecosystem process. Serious concerns about its use in areas with invasive annual brome grasses have arisen. Prescribed fire may be beneficial for controlling annual bromes when they are not abundant, but burning in sites dominated by annual bromes may do more harm than good. Using an experimental approach at two parks in South Dakota and Nebraska, this project seeks to determine the efficacy of prescribed fire as an annual brome management tool across a range of infestation levels and to understand whether follow-up herbicide application or seed addition ameliorates adverse effects or enhances positive effects of fire. Project results will reduce uncertainty about how to maintain fire as a vital ecosystem process while also supporting other vegetation management goals in NGP parks.