In southeastern Oregon, nearly 18 million acres of sagebrush steppe provide habitat for wildlife and sustain ranching economies in a mix of federal, tribal, state, and private ownership. Like the rest the Great Basin, this incredible natural resource is threatened by invasive annual grasses like cheatgrass, medusahead, and ventenata. An estimated 4.1 million acres of Oregon’s sagebrush steppe are heavily impacted by these invaders and an additional 7.5 million acres are at risk.Researchers detailed a proactive strategy that crosses Oregon’s land ownership boundaries to manage this threat. Developed by the SageCon Partnership – a collaborative group coordinating actions to reduce threats to sagebrush and sage grouse in Oregon – the authors detail how the state leveraged spatial data to produce a new geographic strategy in support of its new Invasives Initiative that provides a spatially explicit framework for proactive management of invasive annual grasses: Defend the Core, Grow the Core, Mitigate Impacts. The effort builds upon similar work taking off in other western states, such as the Idaho Cheatgrass Challenge, and shows how the approach can be customized by state and local partners.
Resources & Links
Read an associated paper providing further explanation of the Defend the Core strategy here.
Learn more about how the Defend the Core strategy is being implemented here.
Megan K. Creutzburg, Andrew C. Olsen, Molly A. Anthony, Jeremy D. Maestas, Jacqueline B. Cupples, Nicholas R. Vora, Brady W. Allred, A geographic strategy for cross-jurisdictional, proactive management of invasive annual grasses in Oregon, Rangelands, 2022, ISSN 0190-0528.
Invasive annual grasses pose a widespread threat to western rangelands, and a strategic and proactive approach is needed to tackle this problem. Oregon partners used new spatial data to develop a geographic strategy for the management of invasive annual grasses at landscape scales across jurisdictional boundaries. The geographic strategy considers annual and perennial herbaceous cover along with site resilience and resistance in categorizing areas into intact core, transitioning, and degraded areas. The geographic strategy provides 1) a conceptual framework for proactive management, building upon similar work recently begun across the Great Basin, and 2) multi-scale spatial products for both policymakers and local managers to identify strategic areas for investment of limited resources. These spatial products can be used by Oregon partners to generate a shared vision of success, facilitate proactive management to “defend and grow the core,” and collaboratively develop meaningful and realistic goals and strategies for the management of annual grasses at landscape scales.