“Fighting the effects of climate change in Great Basin rangeland is drawing together federal, state and private interests to deal with what scientists say is greater weather variability causing big swings in forage available for cattle and wildlife.” More at www.idahostatesman.com.
(The photograph shows an impoverished cheatgrass landscape that native shrub vegetation occupied a century ago.)
GR: Since people introduced cheatgrass to the region in the late 1800’s, the little weedy Asian grass has replaced native vegetation across millions of acres. A tremendous loss of natural productivity occurred as native plant and animal species declined.
Cheatgrass carries fire better than native plants. Fire frequency has increased, and native plants don’t have time to establish and mature before the next fire. Cheatgrass seeds survive the fires, and without competitors, the plant continues to increase.
For almost a century, range scientists have tried everything they can think of to control cheatgrass. They have failed, and it appears that the plant has become a permanent resident. There are only two reasonable management approaches now. First, remove domestic livestock so that the remaining native wildlife can survive on the impoverished cheatgrass ranges. And second, try to protect and preserve the few remaining areas with no cheatgrass.