Submitted to: Society for Ecological Restoration Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 14, 2007
Publication Date: September 24, 2007
Citation: Bates, J.D., Svejcar, A.J. 2007. Long-term herbaceous response to juniper debris burning. Society for Ecological Restoration Abstracts [abstract]. SS.3.4. Technical Abstract: Prescribed fire and mechanical cutting are the main treatments used to remove western juniper and restore sagebrush-steppe in eastern Oregon. Mechanical treatments commonly leave cut juniper on site. Juniper debris increases fire season fuel hazards and may enhance invisibility of cheatgrass and slow recovery of perennial species. Recently, efforts have shifted to removing juniper debris by burning in the late fall and winter to reduce potential fire hazards. This study evaluated the long-term (10 years) response of herbaceous vegetation to winter burning of juniper debris. Vegetation response was compared among two burning treatments (burning the first winter after cutting and burning the second winter after cutting), a control (cut and unburned juniper), and interspace. Debris was burned when soils and ground litter were frozen and/or at field capacity. We hypothesized that burning would not increase mortality of herbaceous perennials compared to the unburned control, would speed perennial herbaceous recovery compared to the unburned control, and would reduce the potential for annual grasses to establish when compared to the unburned debris. Debris burning did not increase perennial grass mortality when compared to unburned debris. In the 10th year after cutting, herbaceous and perennial grass cover were 1.5 to 2-fold greater in burned debris treatments compared to unburned controls. Cheatgrass cover was twice as great in the unburned control than the burned debris treatments and the interspace. Winter burning of juniper debris was concluded to have enhanced recovery of native perennials and reduced cheatgrass presence compared to leaving debris unburned.