Sage-grouse, Sagebrush and the Threat Posed by Invasive Annual Grasses / Increased Fire Frequency

The sage-steppe ecosystem found in the Great Basin is an ecosystem in decline; some would say trending towards collapse. Recently, the sage-steppe was recognized as one of the most imperiled ecosystems in America. The primary threat to this rich and diverse ecosystem is the encroachment of invasive annual grasses (primarily cheatgrass) that leads to an increased frequency of wildfire when compared to historical averages. Not all fire is bad. In fact it is a natural part of the ecosystem, and when sage-steppe burns and comes back as sage-steppe, it continues a cycle thousands of years in the making. The problem is this naturally occurring event is being exaggerated by the fine fuels the invasive annual grasses create. Therefore, fire is much more frequent and intense than under natural conditions. 

This report discusses how to manage fire risk in the Great Basin ecosystems. 



 

 

 

Author, Source 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service