Prescriptive grazing for fire control by Ashley Hansen


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  • Sagebrush ecosystems burnResulting in spread and transition to cheatgrass dominated landscapes
  • Use cattle to remove fine fuels in order to begin restoration processIm
  • The GIP Coordinators were asked to look into large scale properties that were managed by a single entity that are predominately cheatgrass and have a high fire frequency. This area is Managed by Ensign located in Skull Valley in Tooele County
  • Pic 1- The areas in Yellow were identified as areas of High Priority either because of fire frequency or identified important structuresPic 2- This picture gets a little busy. The blue lines are current pipelines, Red line is fences and the grey lines are roads. We looked at all of these existing structures plus important buildings and designed firebreaks to create approximately 10,000 acre “pastures”Pic 3- Shows the designed firebreaks and “pastures”
  • * Grazing B. tectorum may allow for native or non-native desirable plants to be seeded into the site and establish with reduced competitive pressure from B. tectorum. Targeted grazing of B. tectorum-dominated sites can be applied as a first step in breaking the cheatgrass/fire cycle via removal of fire disturbance.*Cheatgrass (Bromustectorum)-dominated communities can remain as stable states for long periods, even with frequent disturbance by grazing and fire. However, properly timed (targeted) grazing and prescribed burning can modify seed dispersal and storage, site availability for establishment, and species performance, possibly directing the trajectory of succession to a more desirable community.*In order to create fuel breaks or prepare seedbeds on larger areas, an operator would have to consider how to manipulate a large herd or several small herds to defoliate plants twice during the boot stage. This would include consideration of fencing and water requirements, animal movement patterns, and animal behavior at high stocking density for several weeks. By grazing for two consecutive years, we were able to reduce B. tectorum seed bank densities further than by grazing for just one year.*Defoliation effectiveness could be improved by increasing the defoliation intensity, repeating the defoliation for at least 2 years, and/or using an integrated weed management approach with other control methods such as herbicide application or prescribed burning.
  • This study showed that defoliation was equally effective when comparing grazing and herbicide. This cost table is based on weight gain during the time the animals were grazing the cheagrass pastures and the market value that would in turn bring a profit. The analysis was done based on the biomass availability at five different levels during 3 different grazing periods High-Moderate-Low, Moderate-Low-Moderate, Moderate-Moderate-Low, Low-Moderate-Low and Low-Low-Low. A negative value indicates the cost effectiveness exceeds the input costs for this individual study which included materials and labor, and a profit was made.
  • Prescriptive grazing for fire control by Ashley Hansen

    1. 1. Prescriptive Grazing for Fire Control Ashley Hansen Utah Department of Agriculture and Food Grazing Improvement Program
    2. 2. Fires in Utah
    3. 3. We All Know the Story
    4. 4. Fire Prevention Efforts
    5. 5. Another Option??
    6. 6. Skull Valley- Tooele County
    7. 7. The Idea  Identify “High Risk” areas and/or structures  Use existing structures (roads, pipeline, fences) to plan fire breaks that are approximately ½ mile wide  Creating 10,000 acre “pastures” between fire breaks  Use temporary structures (Electric fence, temporary troughs, water trucks, supplement) to hold high densities of cattle to remove fine fuels.  Rehabilitate cheatgrass “pastures” between fire breaks using cattle  Reseeding of grazed areas with fire resistant seed types would be key, in some instances Plateau or other chemicals may be needed.
    8. 8. Skull Valley- Tooele County
    9. 9. The Idea  Use current permitted animals to heavily graze firebreak areas using electric fence, temporary water, supplement  Some NEPA would be required because in most cases we would be changing the timing of grazing from what the permit allows  Team to review range conditions  BLM, GIP,vExtension, Ranchers,  Monitoring and control of livestock  Permitted Rancher responsibility  Full time herder may be required  Funding for fence, seed, and chemical would be available through GIP
    10. 10. A Study  Joel M. Diamond, USU 2009 PhD Dissertation  Effects of Targeted Grazing and Prescribed Burining on Fire Behaviou and Community Dynamics of a Cheatgrass  Targeted grazing of large blocks and strips could be used as the initial step in the revegetation of cheatgrass-dominated sites.  Timed grazing can alter the stable state of a cheatgrass community  High Intensity grazing can reduce seed bank densities  Integrated weed management practices such as herbicide and burning could be used with grazing
    11. 11. Study Cont. Cost Effectiveness  The creation of fuel breaks with livestock grazing or herbicides may be an effective way to not only protect remnant native vegetation but also prepare seed beds for revegetation. The economic impacts of these changes, in terms of fire suppression and rehabilitation are great, and thus, management techniques must be evaluated for their cost effectiveness
    12. 12. Conclusion  Create firebreaks using cattle to reduce fine fuels  Creates barriers to better contain fires within a largescale cheatgrass dominated area  Utilize existing resources (cattle) to reduce cost of implementing fire breaks and rehabilitation  Rehabilitate individual “pastures” in phases using hearty/fire resilient vegetation.  Ultimately create fire resilient vegetation communities to reduce cost of fire containment in areas of frequent fire occurrence  Use cattle as the primary tool in the restoration process
    13. 13. Questions