PINE RIDGE FIRE: NATIVE WINNER SEEDING TRIALS

Project #: 508335  –   Updated: December 07, 2016

Project Summary

This research was designed to identify how potential “native winner” species perform in post-fire revegetation conditions where cheatgrass is present, relative to the native species and sources that are currently available. We also tested whether the ratio of grasses to forbs impacts the outcome of revegetation efforts in habitat degraded by cheatgrass. For this, we worked with the BLM Grand Junction Field Office (GJFO) following the July 2012 Pine Ridge Fire to establish three study blocks at a site with high percent cheatgrass cover, and monitored percent cover of sown and spontaneous pl...

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Location (by county):
Mesa County (CO)

Watersheds:
Colorado headwaters-Plateau

Congressional Districts:
CO District 03

Bird Conservation Regions:
Southern Rockies/Colorado Plateau

USFWS Regions:
Mountain Prairie Region

Public Access

Site Name Publicly Accessible
3 study blocks established Yes

Full Project Description

This research was designed to identify how potential “native winner” species perform in post-fire revegetation conditions where cheatgrass is present, relative to the native species and sources that are currently available. We also tested whether the ratio of grasses to forbs impacts the outcome of revegetation efforts in habitat degraded by cheatgrass. For this, we worked with the BLM Grand Junction Field Office (GJFO) following the July 2012 Pine Ridge Fire to establish three study blocks at a site with high percent cheatgrass cover, and monitored percent cover of sown and spontaneous plant species in all blocks in May and September 2013, June 2014, and May 2016. We aimed to identify which of the “native winner” species we sowed are able to germinate, establish, and persist at the site, and compare this with species and sources in the GJFO’s Broad Site seed mix. Ultimately, our goal was to help identify seeding sourcing approaches that can improve the long-term outcomes of revegetation efforts in cheatgrass-degraded habitat.

Goals and Targets

Primary motivations:

Other
Identifying native species (especially forb species that support pollinators) that can help improve post-fire revegetation outcomes in habitat degraded by cheatgrass.

Primary goals:

Identify native species, seed sources (cultivar and wild-collected), and seed mixes that may be able to improve post-fire revegetation outcomes using a robust experimental design: 3 blocks that each contain 3 plots of the following treatments: A. BLM Broad Site Mix: ~90% grasses/~10% forbs/~0.3% shrubs. This mix was applied to 3, 2x2m plots in each study block, for a total of 9 study plots. It used all species and sources that will be included in the seed mix applied aerially in early 2013, including 6 grass species (11 sources), 7 forb species (8 sources) and 1 shrub (1 source). Seed was sown at a total rate of ~750PLS/m2, which was the target PLS/m2 rate indicated in the BLM’s Burned Area Rehabilitation report (note that the rate that will likely be aerially applied will be closer to 575 based on PLS ratings for purchased seed and pounds of seed purchased). B. BLM/Native Winner Mix: ~90% grasses/~10% forbs/~0.3% shrubs. This mix was applied to 3, 2x2m plots in each study block, for a total of 9 study plots. It included 6 grass species (10 sources; 4 of which were NW and 6 of which were BLM), 14 forbs (14 sources; 11 of which were NW and 3 of which were BLM (from UP)), and 1 shrub (1 source). Seed was sown at a total rate of ~750PLS/m2. C. BLM/Native Winner Mix High Forb: ~66% grasses/~33% forbs/~0.3% shrubs. This mix was applied to 3, 2x2m plots in each study block. This included 6 grass species (10 sources; 4 of which were NW and 6 of which were BLM), 14 forbs (14 sources; 11 of which were NW and 3 of which were BLM (from UP)), and 1 shrub (1 source). Seed was sown at a total rate of ~750PLS/m2. D. Forb Monoculture: One of 16 forb species was applied to three 0.5x0.5m sub-plots in each study block, for a total of 9 study sub-plots. This included 6 BLM forbs and 10 NW forbs. Seed was sown at a total rate of ~750PLS/m2. E. Grass Monoculture: One of 15 grass species and 1 forb species was applied to three 0.5x0.5m sub-plots in each study block, for a total of 9 study sub-plots. This included 11 BLM grasses, 4 NW grasses, and one NW forb. Seed was sown at a total rate of ~750PLS/m2. F. Control: No seed sown.
Progress:

We were not able to find any treatment effect, and had difficulty tracking individual species/source success because of seed movement due to wind and water erosion, as well as the aerial application of seeds to our site following treatment applications. However, we were able to identify trends in different species, and were able to identify some forb species that aren't currently used in restoration activities that may be beneficial to include, including Machaeranthera (Dieteria) canescens, or hoary tansyaster.

Targeted habitats:

    • Shrublands and Grasslands
      • Shrublands and Steppe

Targeted species:

  • Indian Mountain-ricegrass Achnatherum hymenoides
  • Hoary Tansy-aster Machaeranthera canescens
  • Yellow Spiderflower Cleome lutea
  • Prairie Flax Linum lewisii
  • Sand Dropseed Sporobolus cryptandrus
  • Common Yarrow Achillea millefolium
  • Heliotrope Phacelia Phacelia crenulata
  • Bottlebrush Squirrel-tail Elymus elymoides
  • Red Globemallow Sphaeralcea coccinea
  • Aspen Fleabane Erigeron speciosus
  • Sulphur-flower Wild Buckwheat Eriogonum umbellatum
  • Western Wheatgrass Pascopyrum smithii
  • Dusty Beardtongue Penstemon comarrhenus
  • Woolly Plantain Plantago patagonica
  • Curly Bluegrass Poa secunda
  • Pinnate Tansy-mustard Descurainia pinnata
  • Common Sunflower Helianthus annuus
  • White-stem Stickleaf Mentzelia albicaulis
  • Hairy False Goldenaster Heterotheca villosa

Actions

Project Actions

Outcomes

Is the success of this project's actions being monitored?   Yes

Please describe your monitoring activity.

Vegetation surveys in 2013, 2014, and 2016

What lessons have been learned and/or what suggestions do you have for similar activities?

See results in attached document for details on establishment of seeded species over time in our study plots.

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Organization

Chicago Botanic Garden
(Non-Governmental Organization)

Primary Contact

Andrea Kramer  (Conservation Scientist - Restoration Ecology)
Chicago Botanic Garden
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Partners

  • Nikki Grant-Hoffman and Anna Lincoln, at BLM Grand Junction Field Office
  • Jim Garner at Uncompahgre Project
  • Paul Krabacher at BLM Seed Warehouse
  • Ken Holsinger at BLM Montrose Field Office
  • Wayne Padgett at Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program



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