View Full Size
Encroaching conifers decrease forage for livestock and reduce habitat for sage grouse.
Great Basin Fact Sheet No. 4: Conifer Removal in the Sagebrush Steppe
By: Jeremy D. Maestas, Bruce A. Roundy, and Jon D. Bates
Over the past 150 years, juniper and pinyon woodlands have increased across the sagebrush steppe of the Intermountain West, including spreading to sites that previously did not support trees. This transition from shrub steppe to woodland has broad, concerning impacts on ecosystem function and services. This fact sheet explains the “why when, where, and how” of conifer expansion and infill in sagebrush ecosystems, and lists potential management strategies.
- Benefits of addressing conifer expansion and infill include maintaining native understory plants, reducing risk of large and severe wildfires, improving habitat for declining species, reducing soil erosion and conserving soil water, and increasing ecosystem resilience to fire and resistance to cheatgrass invasion.
- Early intervention to address Phase 1 and 2 sites (those with an adequate native shrub and herbaceous understory) achieves the most predictable results for the least cost.
- A variety of trade-offs and risks must be considered when selecting the most appropriate management option to meet project goals and desired outcomes.
Click here or on the image below to download a PDF of the full fact sheet.
This fact sheet is part of the Great Basin Fact Sheet Series compiled collaboratively by WAFWA, USFS, BLM, NRCS, RMRS, ARS, USGS, and FWS. The series provides land managers with brief summaries of current science concepts and management strategies related to conservation and restoration of the sagebrush sea.