Input needed on review of sagebrush ecosystems to support greater sage-grouse conservation

All ecosystems are dynamic, changing due to growth, succession and disturbances. Modeling large landscapes in the United States requires the collective knowledge of experienced and knowledgeable vegetation and fire experts. In collaboration with hundreds of colleagues, LANDFIRE produced more than 1,000 state-and-transitions models and descriptions — one for every ecosystem (called Biophysical Settings or BpS) mapped by the Program. The result is a major contribution to basic and applied vegetation ecology across the country. These products are used to understand ecosystem ecology, model changes overtime and to test management strategies.

LANDFIRE is now seeking input on the BpS models and descriptions (no modeling required!) through its BpS Review. A special “macro-review” is taking place for Sagebrush Shrublands and Sagebrush Steppe in order to look at the function of these ecosystems across the millions of acres they occupy in the western U.S. The sage macro-reviews are critical not only because sagebrush is so widespread but because it provides critical habitat for sage-grouse and is threatened by invasive species and altered fire regimes among other threats.

The BLM’s Greater Sage-Grouse Effectiveness Monitoring Instruction Memorandum identifies LANDFIRE’s BpS map as the dataset for quantifying the historical extent of sagebrush and a baseline from which to measure change over time. The BpS descriptions documents that are part of the BpS Review are a key source of information for BpS mapping. Improving the BpS models and descriptions through this review will improve the data available for sage mapping and for monitoring sage-grouse conservation efforts.

The LANDFIRE team is crowdsourcing the review of the models; please help if you can! The dedicated webpages for the sage macro-reviews provide a set of simple instructions to guide the review effort. Participants are asked to review documents and maps and then respond to several key questions. Budget one to two hours to complete a review.

You can learn more about the review effort through the online links provided here and below.

Reviews will be accepted until October 31, 2016. If you need more time or have questions, please contact Kori Blankenship.

Greater sage-grouse lek. Photo: USFWS