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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 18(8)

Effects of targeted cattle grazing on fire behavior of cheatgrass-dominated rangeland in the northern Great Basin, USA

Joel M. Diamond A C, Christopher A. Call A, Nora Devoe B

A Wildland Resources Department, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-5230, USA.
B Great Basin Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit, Bureau of Land Management, Reno, NV 89520-0006, USA.
C Corresponding author. Email: firebiod@yahoo.com
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We evaluated the effectiveness of using targeted, or prescribed, cattle grazing to reduce the flame length and rate of spread of fires on cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum)-dominated rangeland in northern Nevada. Cattle removed 80–90% of B. tectorum biomass during the boot (phenological) stage in grazed plots in May 2005. Grazed and ungrazed plots were burned in October 2005 to assess fire behavior characteristics. Targeted grazing reduced B. tectorum biomass and cover, which resulted in reductions in flame length and rate of spread. When the grazing treatments were repeated on the same plots in May 2006, B. tectorum biomass and cover were reduced to the point that fires did not carry in the grazed plots in October 2006. Fuel characteristics of the 2005 burns were used to parameterize dry-climate grass models in BEHAVE Plus, and simulation modeling indicates that targeted grazing in spring (May) will reduce the potential for catastrophic fires during the peak fire season (July–August) in the northern Great Basin.

Keywords: Bromus tectorum, fire modeling, flame length, fuel loading, rate of spread.

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