On the Arizona Strip with IWJV’s Sage Capacity Team
Perhaps no partnership of field-based individuals has had the breadth of impacts on the sagebrush biome as IWJV’s Sage Capacity Team (SCT). During the week of May 16th, the SCT convened in St. George, Utah, and after more than two years of virtual meetings many SCT members were meeting in person for the first time. They were joined by multiple IWJV staff and Management Oversight Group members Gordon Toevs and Tanya Thrift to celebrate accomplishments, share ideas, and tour several project sites. The week’s events were located on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Arizona Strip District where BLM biologists, range specialists, fuels specialists, and other staff are finding ways to create resilient habitats.
The first stop on the field tour was the Buck Pasture Canyon, a range improvement project completed approximately 10 years ago. The goal of the project was to remove thick stands of encroaching juniper, while continuing to provide important habitat for key species like mule deer and pinyon jays. Cliff rose, a critical food source for migrating mule deer, has come back in abundance across this project site, along with bunch grasses and forbs. Managers noted that after 10 years, juniper trees are beginning to move back into the project site, prompting plans to re-enter and remove trees in the future.
High on a plateau, with the red rocks of the Vermillion Cliffs on the horizon, the group stopped at the second field site of the day where post-fire treatments are beginning to show effects. The Pine Hollow Emergency Stabilization & Rehabilitation project is located in a burn scar from a 2020 wildfire. Management practices at Pine Hollow included chaining and winter seeding following the fire, which provided an opportunity to boost preferable plant growth in the years after fire.