Free download. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. You can download and read online Sagebrush Heart: Sagebrush Landscape of Elko County, Nevada file PDF Book only if you are registered here. And also you can download or read online all Book PDF file that related with Sagebrush Heart: Sagebrush Landscape of Elko County, Nevada book. Happy reading Sagebrush Heart: Sagebrush Landscape of Elko County, Nevada Bookeveryone. Download file Free Book PDF Sagebrush Heart: Sagebrush Landscape of Elko County, Nevada at Complete PDF Library. This Book have some digital formats such us :paperbook, ebook, kindle, epub, fb2 and another formats. Here is The CompletePDF Book Library. It's free to register here to get Book file PDF Sagebrush Heart: Sagebrush Landscape of Elko County, Nevada Pocket Guide.

This picture that marklewiswagner took of me in New Mexico last week carries such a big breath for me. I cherish this. I want more of this. Our home and our life here is more beautiful than I had imagined it could be and I love that the very beginning of this chapter here was the easiest, and biggest, leap of faith we've taken as a couple so far; I still wake up every morning with a heart full of gratitude to call the Okanagan the place where we get to create our future.

Thank you, Universe. California Sagebrush Artemisia californica is in bloom. Almost all the members of this family have flowers clustered in dense heads capitula that take on the appearance of a single flower. The flowers along the outer edge of the capitulum ray flowers often have a single fused corolla which appear to be the petals of the sunflower.

The flowers that make up the center are radially symmetrical and called disc flowers. First time making smudge sticks. As so many other things start to die off the sage bush is just starting to bloom. I also created a size 7 ring to coordinate with them. Swipe to see the small details, the hoops on, and the ring paired with these pretties. The snakeskin details flanking the stones, paired with that minty sage or succulent green And I also snuck some patterning onto the bezels of the stones that remind me of the waves in the sand dunes, caused by those notorious Nevada winds.

Broken Arrow is mined near Tonopah NV. Variscite is related to turquoise and holds a similar even sometimes I higher! The link is below in the comments section. Thank you all that have purchased and have expressed interest! There are pretties that are still available- I am adding more up close shots to my Stories. My shop link is on my page it is my website- NOT Etsy! But we are making due! Did I mention today is also our first day of potty training? My gosh. Why not just do it all?! Luckily, my friend is here to help with Zephyr for a bit today, and I am feeling well enough to finish up those remaining XL White Buffalo hoops to go into the shop!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Friday. Thanks for all the get well wishes! Wake up, breathe slow, soak it all in. See what I did there?! Wyoming's Teton Range. The yellow expanse is invasive cheatgrass, native to Europe and eastern Asia and brought to America in the s by European settlers. But it lacks nutritional value for livestock.

Today, cheatgrass monocultures are rapidly displacing the American West's once-verdant, ecologically diverse and culturally iconic sagebrush habitats. It dies annually, sheds new seeds, spreads aggressively, and has become a major wildfire fuel. Due to overgrazing of nutrient-rich sagebrush landscapes by livestock lower left on public and private lands, as well as repeated wildfires, it is becoming the dominant surface vegetation across the Great Basin region of the West. That is nudging some sagebrush-dependent native species toward at least regional extinction, and permanently transforming much of the American West.

Here, a road helps to protect a section of sagebrush -- still grazed and degraded by cattle -- from spreading cheatgrass. Sagebrush shifts from silver to lavender as the sun slips behind the North Dakota badlands. The north slopes are dominated by Rocky Mountain juniper, which vividly contrasts the drier south facing slopes that are nearly devoid of vegetation. But you'll find scrubby patches of sagebrushes Artemisia spp. Follow me! Their populations are very sensitive to human interaction, and industrial development. They estimated 2 million birds then, to around ,00 today.

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Luckily the populations are strong where I live. I appreciate the opportunity to hunt this bird because it may not be there forever. Raising awareness is increasingly on my radar every year. It can be frustrating hunting. That sight combined with praterpartyof4 making sage grouse pot pie has made this one of my favorite times of the year.

Anyone want this? From my hike along a section of the CDT. This place has been such a site of respite for me. Any wonder why? Sister matching tattoos for Rachel and Erin! Sagebrush is not growing well in Wyoming. Conversely, Bunting [ 62 ] referred to mountain big sagebrush as being "well adapted to becoming established following fire" because mountain big sagebrush seeds "establish readily" after fire, and mountain big sagebrush occurs on "very productive sites" and may "return to preburn condition within 15 to 20 years".

Thus, different conclusions about mountain big sagebrush's postfire recovery time—which is driven by a number of interacting factors, and is therefore highly variable see below —appear to influence perceptions of its adaptations to fire. It is unlikely that historical fire frequency in mountain big sagebrush communities can be resolved by considering mountain big sagebrush's adaptations to fire alone [ ]. Postfire recovery Postfire recovery time i. He found that 16 sites showed nearly full recovery 25 to 30 years after fire; he classified these as "fast track" sites. The remaining sites were not yet recovered up to 35 years after fire.

Based on these observations and his suggestion that a conservative estimate for "fire rotation and point mean fire interval for sagebrush is at least twice the recovery period", he suggested a fire rotation or point mean fire interval of at least 50 to 70 years for fast track sites and at least to years for slow track sites [ 19 ]. However, two studies of mountain big sagebrush in Utah and adjacent Nevada that used many of the same study areas suggest that the relationship between fire frequency and postfire recovery described by Baker is oversimplified.

These studies provide an opportunity to compare postfire recovery time estimated from a chronosequence of paired burned and unburned sites [ ] to point mean fire intervals calculated using fire scars dated from to on intermixed and adjacent conifers [ ]. These point mean fire intervals are about 0. Locations where point mean fire intervals were shorter than postfire recovery times may have been dominated by grasses, rather than sagebrush, historically see below. The FEIS Species Review about mountain big sagebrush includes a review and analysis of mountain big sagebrush postfire recovery data from burned sites in eight ecoregions examined in 20 studies.

Postfire recovery times varied within and among ecoregions figure A1.

Sites in the Wyoming Basin appeared to be the slowest to recover figure A1c , which is consistent with relatively long fire rotations reported by Bukowski and Baker [ 60 ] table A6 and long mean fire intervals modeled by LANDFIRE for the Wyoming Basin [ ] table 1 , if assuming a direct relationship between postfire recovery and fire frequency [ 19 , ]. Although "understory fine fuels were on the light side and patchy" due to many years of summer-long grazing on these sites, accounts from early settlers in this area suggest that fine fuels were historically abundant in some mountain big sagebrush areas, as they "were able to put up hay".

Relatively fast recovery [ 19 , ] and abundant fine fuels [ 73 , ], therefore, might suggest a history of frequent fire in the area see Historical Fuels: Amount and Continuity of Fuels. However, fire may still have been infrequent in this ecoregion because of low lightning strike density [ ]. Frequent fires favor grassland steppe over sagebrush steppe [ , , ]. While conifer establishment in mountain big sagebrush communities may be "minimal" on many sites even after apparently long periods without fire [ ], conifers can establish and dominate in mountain big sagebrush communities along woodland-sagebrush ecotones when the interval between fires becomes long enough [ , ] see Woodland Expansion.

The period of time required for mountain big sagebrush steppe sites to succeed to woodland varies among sites. Based on these and other data, researchers developed a conceptual model to estimate the time necessary for mountain big sagebrush communities along elevational and aspect gradients to transition from initial western juniper establishment to late-seral woodland figure 6. Establishment and spread of other conifers into mountain big sagebrush communities is not well studied.


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Fire frequency in mountain big sagebrush communities is sometimes inferred by the presence of conifers, based on the susceptibility of young conifers to fire-caused mortality [ 13 , 66 , , , ]. Fire frequencies of 35 to 40 years in Montana apparently excluded Rocky Mountain Douglas-firs from adjacent grasslands and mountain big sagebrush communities, confining them to rock outcrops, talus slopes, or other sites with sparse fuels [ 13 , ].

Charcoal Analyses Analyses of charcoal fragments from soils [ ] or lake and wetland sediments [ ] can be used to reconstruct fire history within treeless landscapes. The spatial resolution of these fire histories may be similar to that of fire histories derived from fire-scar analysis i. Individual fires cannot usually be resolved from charcoal analyses, but peaks in charcoal abundance or accumulation rates indicate fire "events" or "episodes"—when one or more fires occurred within the time period spanned by the peak—and can be related to changes in fire activity at the site or landscape level [ ].

Nelson and Pierce [ ] caution that fire frequency estimates obtained from charcoal in sediments and those obtained using fire-scar records should be compared cautiously because of the different temporal resolutions. Additionally, analysis of charcoal peaks is biased toward detection of high-severity crown fires, because low-severity surface fires contribute primarily to background charcoal levels and may not leave distinct peaks [ ], while fire scars record low- to moderate-severity surface fires.

Only a few studies of charcoal fragments in soils and sediments had been conducted to examine fire history in sagebrush landscapes to date e. Of these, two studies in the Middle Rockies ecoregion [ , ] and one in the Idaho Batholith ecoregion [ ] provide fire history information, which pertains to five sites where mountain big sagebrush communities occur in the surrounding area figure 7. These studies are summarized in table A4. The time period covered by these fire histories varies, ranging from about years Swan Lake [ ] to about 14, years Blacktail Pond [ ], although vegetation reconstructions based on analyses of pollen [ , ] or plant macrofossils [ ] suggest that sagebrush was a common to dominant component of the vegetation during at least the past to 2, years at all sites [ , , ].

Records of fire activity during that period varied among sites, but showed some similar relationships with climate. Comparisons of peaks in charcoal abundance with climate records suggest that fires occurred in mountain big sagebrush communities during periods that were wetter than average, implying that these are fuel-limited systems where fine-fuel biomass increases during relatively wet periods and is then ignited during relatively dry years [ , ]. For example, charcoal records from Hendrick Pond, Wyoming, indicated that several fire episodes occurred during century-long wet periods centered around AD , , , , and [ ].

In a southwestern Idaho rangeland, a comparison of fire activity based on radiocarbon dating of charcoal in soil to climate reconstructions based on tree-ring records over the last 2, years showed that fire episodes were more common during centuries that were wetter than average, and that fire activity peaked during drier than average decades within those centuries. For example, fire episodes were frequent during the relatively cool and wet Little Ice Age AD — and most frequent around AD —a period with several drier than average decades.

In contrast, fire episodes were infrequent during the relatively dry Medieval Climatic Anomaly AD — , with the exception of a wetter interval centered around AD , when some fire activity was evident [ ]. The positive relationship between fire occurrence and relatively wet periods has also been described in landscapes dominated by Wyoming big sagebrush and basin big sagebrush in central Nevada [ ]. Fire-scar Records Fire interval estimates for big sagebrush communities derived from fire-scar records on recording trees intermixed with or adjacent to big sagebrush communities are widely cited in the literature; however, limitations of this approach have led to criticisms from several authors.

For example, uncertainty regarding the frequency at which fires spread across ecotones between woodlands or forests and mountain big sagebrush communities makes the applicability and interpretation of fire-scar records for mountain big sagebrush communities uncertain e. While observations in Utah, Nevada [ ], Oregon, and California [ ] suggest that presettlement fires commonly spread across these ecotones see Historical Fuels: Amount and Continuity of Fuels , adjacent forest and woodland types vary across the range of mountain big sagebrush sites, and each has different historical fuel and fire regime characteristics.

Therefore, results from individual studies may not be applicable to other locations. For example, estimates of fire frequency in mountain big sagebrush communities using fire-scar records on adjacent and intermixed ponderosa pines and Rocky Mountain Douglas-firs suggest relatively short fire intervals [ 13 , 48 , 66 , , , , , ], and proximity to these fire-prone forest types may have led to more frequent fires in these mountain big sagebrush landscapes [ ] than in those adjacent to less fire-prone types e.

In addition, suitable proxy trees are absent from many big sagebrush sites and, where they are present, are often scarce and disproportionately distributed, so sample sizes are often small [ ]. In some cases, associated trees may be located on "fire safe" sites such as rocky ridges with sparse fine fuels that are not representative of sagebrush sites [ , ]. Fire-scar records from conifers intermixed with or adjacent to mountain big sagebrush communities were available from 25 sites in six ecoregions figure 7 and published in eight studies see table A5 for study details.

Among these sites, mean fire interval estimates were shortest for sites in the Eastern Cascades Slopes and Foothills and the western part of the Northern Basin and Range ecoregions, where ponderosa pine was the most common proxy species. In these ecoregions, composite mean fire intervals calculated from fire-scarred ponderosa pine trees intermixed with mountain big sagebrush steppe ranged from 6 to 24 years [ 48 , , , ]. Mean fire interval estimates were generally longer years on sites in the Middle Rockies, where Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir was the most common proxy species [ 13 , , ].

A study examining fire-scarred ponderosa pine and other conifers intermixed with mountain big sagebrush communities in the Central Basin and Range, Colorado Plateaus, and Wasatch and Uinta Mountains ecoregions reported presettlement fire intervals calculated as the mean number of years between fires from the first recorded fire to of Overall, mean fire intervals tended to be shorter for sites in the Central Basin and Range Critique of studies using fire scars on associated trees to estimate fire frequency in mountain big sagebrush communities is widespread in the published literature, with most suggesting that the fire intervals presented by some authors e.

For example, Houston [ ] calculated presettlement — point mean fire intervals for mountain big sagebrush steppe in the Northern Yellowstone Winter Range of 32 to 70 years from 34 trees on seven sites. He also calculated presettlement composite mean fire intervals of 17 to 41 years by cross-dating fire scars on 2 or 3 trees from Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir forest-sagebrush steppe ecotones in each of six stands on four of the same sites.

Based on these data and the assumption that fire frequency had been reduced by both fire suppression efforts and cessation of burning by American Indians since the park was established in , Houston proposed 20 to 25 years as the "best estimate of the true fire frequency" after excluding the shortest and longest composite intervals from his dataset [ ]. Many authors e. Mean fire intervals suggested by Kitchen and McArthur [ ] years were more similar to Houston's [ ] pre point mean fire intervals years than his estimate of 20 to 25 years.

Other researchers stated that horsebrush and rabbitbrush would dominate many sagebrush-grass communities in northern Idaho with fires that frequent [ , ]. Welch and Criddle [ ] suggested that Houston was "overoptimistic" about how soon fire suppression became effective in Yellowstone National Park, and that it may not have been effective until the s.

Miller and Rose [ ] also estimated very short mean fire intervals for mountain big sagebrush communities in south-central Oregon based on fire-scarred ponderosa pines in four small clusters of trees scattered within a mountain big sagebrush-grassland matrix. Of the 25 fires identified, seven were "large" fires i.

Kitchen and McArthur [ ] estimated an approximate return interval of 38 years for these seven large fires and concluded that this frequency estimate was likely "more realistic" for mountain big sagebrush stands than the short composite intervals, which would be too frequent to allow mountain big sagebrush to fully recover such that these stands would have been predominantly grasslands see Postfire recovery [ ]. Welch and Criddle [ ] agreed that the year fire interval would be more compatible with maintaining mountain big sagebrush dominance than the shorter fire intervals reported by Miller and Rose [ ].

Presence of presettlement trees indicate that conifers established in mountain big sagebrush communities periodically, likely during the long fire-free intervals recorded by fire-scarred trees in some areas [ 13 , 18 , , , , ]. In southwestern Montana, a mean fire interval of 37 years recorded in fire-scarred Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir trees was considered adequate to exclude the trees from mountain big sagebrush communities. However, fire intervals ranged from 2 to 84 years, so trees could have established during the longer fire-free intervals [ ].

In parts of the Central Basin and Range, Colorado Plateaus, and Wasatch and Uinta Mountains ecoregions of Utah and Nevada, the maximum interval between presettlement prior to surface fires was 72 years in patches of conifer forests and woodlands surrounded by mountain big sagebrush communities, and 65 years in conifer forests and woodlands at ecotones with mountain big sagebrush communities [ ], suggesting enough time for postfire recovery of conifers in these communities see Postfire recovery.

Fire Rotation Estimates Fire rotation is the time it takes to burn an area equal to a landscape of interest [ ]. Baker [ 21 ] calculates fire rotation by adding the areas of individual fires surface and stand-replacing fires in a particular area over some period of time, and dividing this time period by the fraction of the total area burned.

For example, a fire rotation of years means that fire will burn the entire landscape over a year period and that each point in the landscape will burn, on average, once during that period [ 17 ]. Fire rotation is best calculated for an area that exceeds the largest fire expected in one rotation [ ], and accurate estimates of fire rotation require a period of record at least as long as the fire rotation estimates, which is seldom available [ 11 , 60 ]. Because fire rotations do not directly consider variation across space or time, Miller et al. Thus, it is important to know something about the composition of plant associations and ecological site types included within the area being studied.

Fire rotations estimated using land-survey records Historical fire rotations estimated from vegetation reconstructions based on General Land Office survey records from the late s and early s suggest that presettlement fire rotations in mountain big sagebrush landscapes varied widely among ecoregions table A6. Bukowski and Baker [ 59 , 60 ] and Arendt [ 11 ] used vegetation descriptions in General Land Office surveys to reconstruct historical vegetation over large landscapes, and they used these reconstructions to identify burned areas.

Burned areas were then used to calculate fire rotations in mountain big sagebrush landscapes that ranged from 10s of thousands to s of thousands of acres and encompassed a range of soil temperature and moisture regimes. Estimates ranged from 48 to 77 years for 36, acres 14, ha in the Eastern Cascades Slopes and Foothills and Northern Basin and Range ecoregions to to 2, years for , acres 71, ha in the Wyoming Basin ecoregion [ 11 , 59 , 60 ]. The authors stated that all of the fire rotation estimates were likely long enough to allow full postfire recovery and extended periods of dominance by mountain big sagebrush [ 59 ]; and that "no clear explanation was apparent" for the very long fire rotations in the Wyoming Basin, although they suggest that the dry climate [ 60 ], the relatively complex topography, and the sparse, fuel-limited dwarf sagebrush communities in that ecoregion [ 20 ] may have contributed see Contemporary Fire Pattern and Size.

General Land Office surveys are generally limited both spatially and temporally, and the quality and validity of surveys vary, with information in survey notes sometimes ambiguous. For example, surveys are not available for all townships, and the period of observation in available surveys is limited to a few decades, while accurate fire rotation estimates require a period of observation at least as long as the fire rotation estimates [ 11 , 60 ].

Fire rotations in mountain big sagebrush within a matrix of pinyon-juniper woodlands Baker [ 19 ] suggested that small patches of mountain big sagebrush within a matrix of pinyon-juniper woodland would have burned with the same frequency as the surrounding woodland. See table A7 for details from these studies. In , Baker [ 19 ] stated that his initial "adjacency correction" was "incorrect", and he calculated a new adjacency correction based on contemporary fire rotations in pinyon-juniper and sagebrush communities showing that pinyon-juniper burned less frequently than sagebrush.

Baker [ 19 ] applied his conversion factors to fire frequency estimates published in other studies i. These data are problematic for several reasons including the following: Baker applied conversion factors 3. The upper range estimate of several fire rotations was miscalculated i. The relationship between fire frequency in conifer communities and "sagebrush" communities in general likely differs from that between conifer communities and mountain big sagebrush communities in particular. In his attempt to establish an adjacency correction factor for converting fire rotations in conifer communities to fire rotations in adjacent sagebrush, Baker failed to acknowledge that, because different conifer communities have fire regimes that differ substantially from one another, some conifer types probably burned more frequently while others burned less frequently than mountain big sagebrush communities.

Although he initially recognized that ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests burned more frequently than sagebrush communities [ 16 ], he discarded his initial adjacency correction factor of 2. He instead used contemporary fire rotations from pinyon-juniper and sagebrush communities to calculate an "improved" adjacency correction factor of 0. In addition to the above points, McAdoo et al. Historical Fire Type, Severity, and Intensity Historically, wildfires in mountain big sagebrush communities were high-severity, stand-replacement surface and crown fires [ 16 , 19 ] that burned at low or moderate intensity [ , ].

Like contemporary wildfires e. Although fires may leave patches of unburned vegetation within fire perimeters i. Studies of contemporary fires in mountain big sagebrush communities typically do not report fire severity. Studies of prescribed burns that created fire mosaics in a mountain big sagebrush community in western Wyoming [ ] and Wyoming big sagebrush communities in southeastern Oregon [ ] reported that nearly all biomass was consumed in burned portions of the mosaics see Historical Fire Pattern and Size for more information about mosaic fire.

Our review of fire history studies in mountain big sagebrush communities and that of Baker [ 16 ] found no evidence of mixed-severity fire historically, suggesting that all mountain big sagebrush steppe Biophysical Settings should be placed in replacement severity fire regime groups. Reviews of fire regimes in mountain big sagebrush communities describe historical fire intensity as mostly low—based on the assumption that sagebrush communities typically had abundant, continuous fine fuels and widely scattered and patchy shrub cover [ ]—or moderate [ ], presumably for areas with greater shrub cover.

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Intensity of individual contemporary fires in sagebrush communities ranges from low to high due to variation in fuel characteristics, weather, and topography [ , ]. Brown [ 58 ] quantified fuel properties and modeled fire behavior for mountain big sagebrush and Wyoming big sagebrush in Montana and Idaho to show how rate of spread and fireline intensity varied with big sagebrush height, percent cover, foliage moisture, and fraction of dead stemwood.

However, observed fireline intensity during four prescribed fires in a variety of sagebrush communities indicated that modeled fireline intensities were 3 to 6 times lower than those observed in the field [ 58 ]. Fireline intensity during prescribed fires is likely to be lower than is typical in late-summer wildfires [ ].

For example, using General Land Office survey records from to to reconstruct historical vegetation patterns in west-central Colorado, Bukowski and Baker [ 59 ] identified areas thought to have burned within , acres , ha of mountain big sagebrush, Wyoming big sagebrush, mixed sagebrush-mountain shrubland, and associated grassland communities.

Based on those reconstructed historical fires, they inferred a pattern of infrequent large fires and more frequent smaller fires. This fire-size distribution was inverse-J shaped with a geometric mean patch size of acres ha and mean fire size of acres ha. Few other studies provide information on presettlement fire sizes and patterns in sagebrush communities. One study in southwestern Montana found that historical surface fires ranged from 22 to acres ha based on reconstructions from 83 fire-scarred Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir and Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine trees on a landscape historically dominated by Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir savanna and mountain big sagebrush-grassland [ ]; no information was available about the burn pattern of these fires.


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Simulation models of postfire recovery times suggest that presettlement fires were mostly small, and large fires were mosaic fires, with many unburned patches [ ]. These models also suggest that the occurrence of mosaic fires has a pronounced effect on fire rotation estimates [ 95 ].

The Ruby Mountains in Elko, Nevada, Ruby Lake and the Last Chance Ranch June 2004

Models of a 1. Larger, uniformly high-severity fires would have been infrequent because they required a much longer fire-free period for full recovery [ ].

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When mosaic fire was not included in the model, the fire rotation was estimated at years. When mosaic fire was included in the model at the maximum probability two times the initial probability , the fire rotation was estimated at 50 years [ 95 ]. The habitat requirements of sagebrush obligates also support the idea that mosaic fires were common. For example, greater sage-grouse prefer large, contiguous sagebrush habitats of varying cover and density with small, scattered openings [ 94 , ], suggesting that large, uniformly stand-replacement fires were rare [ ].

The relative abundance of pronghorn in some areas of the Great Basin during presettlement times suggests that fires may have been patchy historically [ ], because pronghorn generally benefit from fires that create openings in dense sagebrush habitats [ , , ]. A review of ecological literature, historical accounts, and explorer reports concluded that bird communities in sagebrush habitats depend on a mosaic of native plant communities and successional stages and that "spotty and occasional wildfire probably created a patchwork of young and old sagebrush stands across the landscape" prior to European-American settlement [ ].

In contemporary sagebrush communities, small fires are far more common than large fires [ 98 , ]. For example, between and , 33, fires occurred in greater sage-grouse habitat in the western United States. Data are lacking from sagebrush communities in other regions and from mountain big sagebrush communities in particular. In addition, available data are from contemporary fires, which likely differed from historical fires because of habitat fragmentation, cheatgrass invasion, fire suppression, and livestock grazing [ 96 , ] see Contemporary Fire Pattern and Size.

Large Fire Frequency Periodic large fires were likely most frequent on productive, contiguous expanses of mountain big sagebrush communities on landscapes where natural fire breaks were sparse, topography was level, fuels were dense and continuous, fuel moisture was low, multiple fire starts occurred, and winds were strong [ 19 , 47 , , ].

Presumably, large fires under these conditions would also have been less likely to have unburned patches within their perimeters see Historical Fire Type, Severity, and Intensity. Large fires were less frequent on landscapes where mountain big sagebrush communities intermixed with natural fire breaks, such as rivers and streams, canyons, rock outcrops and talus, sand dunes, wetlands, or other areas with limited or moist fuels [ 19 ], including low sagebrush and black sagebrush communities with sparse fuels that burned only under severe weather conditions [ 47 , , ]. Historically, large fires in big sagebrush ecosystems may have occurred the year after one or more years with above-average precipitation that promoted fine fuel production [ ].

Only one fire history study [ ] examined presettlement fire-climate relationships for large fires in mountain big sagebrush. Studies of contemporary fire-climate relationships in semiarid regions of the western United States reveal similar patterns between antecedent precipitation and widespread fires e. However, this relationship may not be as strong for relatively cool, moist mountain big sagebrush sites as for relatively warm, dry Wyoming big sagebrush sites e.

The relationship of contemporary fire size or total area burned with antecedent precipitation is likely driven by fine fuels from nonnative annual grasses, particularly cheatgrass [ 22 , ], which are less invasive in mountain big sagebrush communities but see Nonnative Invasive Plants and do not have an historical analog see Contemporary Fire Pattern and Size. In areas where conifer expansion into big sagebrush communities has occurred, the peak rate of expansion occurred during a relatively wet and mild period between and e.

The period of most rapid woodland expansion was not synchronous among all sites but occurred from to in Idaho and from to in Oregon, Utah, and Nevada [ ]. In the central and northern Rocky Mountains, Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine [ 38 ] and Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir [ 13 , 14 , , , , ] densities have also increased in mountain big sagebrush stands, but these stands are less studied. Evidence for the increase comes from descriptions of explorers and early settlers, old photographs, stand age and structure, fire-scar records, and pollen cores taken from pond sediments and woodrat middens [ 92 , , , , , , ].

The greatest proportion of conifer expansion has occurred on cool to warm, relatively moist sagebrush sites, particularly in mountain big sagebrush communities and low sagebrush communities on moderately deep soils. Conifer expansion has also occurred on relatively cool, moist sites in black sagebrush and Wyoming big sagebrush communities [ , , ] see the Species Review about mountain big sagebrush. The combined effects of climate variability and varied fire frequency were likely the primary drivers of juniper and pinyon range expansion and contraction since prehistoric times, and they continue to be driving forces on contemporary landscapes, along with other interacting effects, including overgrazing by livestock and carbon dioxide fertilization [ 92 , , , ] see Conifer Distribution.

Some authors have attributed juniper expansion since European-American settlement to the effects of a wet, mild climate in the late 19th and early 20th centuries coincident with decreased fire frequency e. Decreased fire frequency was attributed to the reduction in American Indian burning and the reduction of fine fuels by heavy livestock grazing [ ].

Burkhardt and Tisdale [ 65 , 66 ] examined several possible causes of and contributing factors to succession of sagebrush-grasslands to western juniper woodlands, and concluded that it was directly related to the combined effects of changes in climate and reduced fire frequency and spread due to fire control and prevention, reduced fine fuels due to livestock grazing, and fragmentation of sagebrush communities due to other land uses. Bukowski and Baker [ 60 ] stated that fire regimes in sagebrush communities are primarily controlled by weather or climate, and concluded that fire rotation estimates for mountain big sagebrush communities in four areas of Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Wyoming were generally too long for fire to be the only factor preventing conifers from establishing see Historical Fire Frequency: Fire rotations estimated using land-survey records.

Eddleman et al. Grove [ ] stated that even if fire exclusion was not a primary cause of conifer expansion, it allows it to continue unabated. Juniper and pinyon-juniper woodlands are likely to continue expanding into big sagebrush communities on susceptible landscapes [ 63 , , , ] see Climate Change. While conifer expansion is a concern in many big sagebrush communities, tree density and canopy cover have not changed or have declined in many pinyon-juniper communities in the western United States e. Romme et al. In Dinosaur National Monument and the surrounding area, a comparison of historical vegetation reconstructed using General Land Office survey records from to with contemporary vegetation records showed a net decline in pinyon-juniper woodlands and mixed montane shrublands and an increase in sagebrush steppe a combination of mountain big sagebrush, Wyoming big sagebrush, and basin big sagebrush communities.

Shorter fire rotations since European-American settlement due to the high amount of prescribed burning see Fire Rotations Estimated Using Contemporary Fire Records appeared to be driving the decline. Potential consequences of increasing tree dominance in sagebrush communities include: 1 an increase in woody fuel loads and changes in fuel structure that increase the potential for high-intensity, stand-replacing crown fires and subsequent establishment and spread of nonnative species see Historical Fuels: Kinds of Fuels ; 2 changes in plant community composition and structure, including reduced cover of sagebrush, native grasses, and forbs; 3 an increase in aboveground carbon and nutrient pools; and 4 a reduction in water infiltration and increase in soil erosion [ 32 , 87 , , , , , ].

These changes result in plant communities that are less resilient to fire and other disturbances and less resistant to nonnative annual grass establishment and spread after fire [ ]. Nonnative invasive annual grasses of concern in big sagebrush communities include cheatgrass, medusahead, and ventenata [ 80 , , ]. Among these, cheatgrass is the most widespread and has been the most harmful thus far [ ], and large areas of big sagebrush—especially Wyoming big sagebrush and basin big sagebrush—have converted to cheatgrass grasslands as a consequence of frequent wildfires [ 22 , 84 , , ].

Although mountain big sagebrush communities are among the least susceptible of sagebrush communities to annual grass invasion [ 73 , , ], it is a growing concern e. In addition, medusahead [ ] and ventenata [ ] are at the early stages of invasion in some sagebrush steppe ecosystems, and continue to expand their ranges.

In the Great Basin, medusahead is most invasive in areas where mean annual precipitation exceeds 12 inches [ ], and in drier areas it is most invasive and can displace cheatgrass on relatively moist sites e. A study of sagebrush steppe in eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho [ ] suggests that ventenata, like medusahead, was located primarily in relatively moist areas, including areas that received relatively more precipitation, clayey soils, and topographic positions that retain water.

At elevations above 4, feet 1, m , ventenata was most abundant in areas dominated by mountain big sagebrush which occurs in a relatively higher precipitation zone and low sagebrush which favors poorly drained, shallow clay soils. At elevations below 3, feet 1, m , ventenata was most abundant in areas characterized by extensive annual grass complexes dominated by medusahead. Based on these observations and additional observations in the Inland Northwest, the authors suggest that ventenata is most likely to initially establish on relatively moist sites, but that it may then spread to drier sites [ ].

Her decision placed the Front off-limits to future oil and gas leasing for the next 20 years, and settled a bitter, two-decade long fight between energy interests and environmentalists Kenworthy, Flora would later draw from her reservoir of strengths gained from her upbringing, her academic and professional experiences, and the Rocky Mountain Front episode in order to prepare for her next assignment -- and showdown -- in Jarbidge.

Flora states that 'how we treat each other is often reflected in how we treat the land' Flora, a. Jarbidge reveals the mistreatment and abuse of both people and land. In the watersheds in these states the beautiful Dolly Varden is either officially listed as threatened or is regarded as requiring 'monitoring. Elko County claims to own this road, although it is located within the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. After considerable deliberation, the Forest Service made a preliminary decision to protect the gravel riverbed for Dolly Varden spawning and not rebuild the road.

The agency asked the county to work with them to locate the trail head at the site of the washout. This request brings us to the real issue. The Elko County Commissioners used the road washout issue as a platform for a display of their radical form of county supremacy and states rights. In the tradition of the Sagebrush Rebellion, they sent a bulldozer up the canyon to rebuild the road. In the abortive effort, only 50 feet of rough road was built. The riparian vegetation was removed and the river was channelized creating feet of slow moving warm water which was very harmful to the Dolly Varden.

The State of Nevada ordered the county to stop.

Groups target Nevada predators

Months later, when a Nevada state assemblyman, John Carpenter, organized a volunteer group to rebuild the road, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order for fear a confrontation between officials of the Forest Service and the volunteers would become violent. Having served in the west her entire career, Flora represented a seasoned veteran of the Sagebrush Rebellion. Skirmishes such as the Jarbidge road washout were nothing new to her. But what happened next was simply too much. Chenoweth-Hage and Gibbons announced congressional hearings on the Jarbidge matter and other matters, to be held in Elko in late November of For his part, Representative Gibbons made it known that he was prepared to use the appropriations process to withhold funding from the Forest Service Dorsey, The list of those who were to testify included employees of the Forest Service and the BLM and supposed experts, almost all of whom were critics of federal government ownership and control of western land.

But even that was not unusual; such hearings are often a kind of public grandstanding for political purposes. This list of witnesses, however, included the personal attorney of Wayne Hage, Representative Chenoweth-Hage's husband who has a ten-year history of defying the federal government on his extensive land holdings in Nevada. Private Rights in Federal Lands, The blatant conflict of interest was simply too much for many observers. It is interesting to note that Representative Gibbons dismissed any charges of conflict of interest in the following cavalier way: 'That's nonsense.

There's absolutely no conflict of interest in that at all. That statement I find almost to be laughable. There's no logic behind it' Sonner, a. In addition, the hearings were to be followed by a fund-raiser for Chenoweth-Hage and Gibbons! It was clear that federal government employees were to serve as the public punching bags for Representatives Chenoweth-Hage and Gibbons prior to their fund-raiser.

In the words of a Missoulian Editorial, the purpose of the hearing was 'to skewer federal employees' The political intrigue and blatant abuses of power and privilege sharpened the skewer. Flora decided that she would have none of it. In a letter to her employees dated November 8, and in advance of the congressional 'hearing,' she resigned as the Forest Supervisor for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest: When a member of the United States Congress joins force with them, using the power of the office to stage a public inquisition of federal employees followed by a political fund-raiser, I must protest Enough is enough If one reads between the lines of the following excerpt of Blackwell's introductory speech, the implication is a lack of support for Flora and her decision: Vaught's selection comes at a time when Forest Service relationships within the state of Nevada are strained We heard loud and clear about the importance of selecting a new forest supervisor who understands the people, issues and culture of Nevada.

I think Bob Vaught truly fits the bill He also has a great reputation of successfully working with people. We're very pleased with the selection. Viewed from this perspective, these words can also be seen as minimizing or trivializing Flora's 22 years of professional experience with the Forest Service throughout the intermountain west, and undermine her credibility.

Blackwell squandered a highly visible opportunity to voice his public support for Flora and acknowledge the full significance of her resignation, choosing instead to placate and appease local interests. Such an approach only serves to embolden her adversaries, who are likely to become Vaught's nemesis in turn Flora, a.

It is not always clear whether the Sagebrush Rebels' goal is the privatization of federal lands or the overthrow of the federal government itself. As the Jarbidge episode demonstrates, there is an angry and hateful tone to their rhetoric. Some of this goes with the territory in the rural west. Running a national forest is not for the faint of heart. Employees for the Forest Service, BLM and other federal agencies endure suspicion, antagonistic attitudes, intimidation, harassment, threats and even acts of violence.

In the case of Jarbidge, however, the violence and emotional rage reached a particularly high level. Along with accusations against specific employees, he included thinly veiled threats against collaborators. Flora states: 'To evoke the image of fascism and compare it to contemporary public land management in America is at best delusional and at worst, a disgrace to the memories of those who suffered unimaginable terror at the hands of the Nazi regime Exaggeration and incendiary language do nothing to elucidate issues' Flora, a. Jarbidge also exposes the growing tendency for some politicians to openly condone and exploit distrust, even going so far as to threaten armed insurrection.

Flora reminds us that all elected officials, as well as Forest Service employees, sign an oath of office to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States. She does not take her oath of office lightly. These are the same politicians who inflame passions, rather than work to solve problems. He stated, 'Don't sell goods or services to them until they come to their senses' Associated Press, As a further example, Tony Lesperance, an Elko County Commissioner, said: 'Ultimately the issue is who owns the county, the federal government or the people.

We will rebuild the road, come hell or high water We are not afraid to defy Thousands of shovels were sent to Elko to arm the rebels in their war against the federal government. In January , a foot shovel was erected in front of the Elko County Courthouse, a symbol of the Shovel Brigade rebels. For his part, the Governor of Nevada, Kenny Guinn, fueled the fire by publicly supporting the protests against the Forest Service: 'Sometimes the only way to get their attention is to stand up for our rights' Sonner, These and other elected officials have come to characterize the federal government as engaging in a war on the west.

Changing a policy regarding drilling or endangered species protection is not warfare, and public servants are not enemies. What sense does it make to shoot the messengers? For a small minority in Elko, Nevada, fed-bashing is a favorite past-time. The public is largely silent, watching as if this were a spectator sport. Flora described an 'open season' on federal employees in Nevada, and fed-bashing as a 'state-sanctioned sport. To Flora fed-bashing is the dark side of the lack of civility and is synonymous with racism. In response to my expressed concerns about the treatment of my employees and their families in Nevada, a member of Congress casually quipped, 'You're federal employees, what do you expect?

In a telephone interview, Flora recounted the story of a woman who publicly voiced her objection to the shovel monument. This woman is married to a prominent local doctor but doesn't share his last name. In response to her criticism, Assemblyman John Carpenter telephoned the woman at 7 a. Public voices are intimidated and silenced. However, I learned that in Nevada, as a federal employee, you have no right to speak, no right to do your job and certainly no right to be treated with respect.

Her husband, Marc, responded to an editorial in the Elko Daily Free Press that was the latest in numerous personal attacks against Flora. The editor replied that he was not at the point of advocating violence yet, but it will happen! He had no intention of stopping the personal attacks, and called Flora a duplicitous liar. In a series of exchanges between Marc Flora and the editor, the editor concluded, 'well obviously your wife couldn't take it and you are both dirt bags.

For example, responding to her resignation, the Chairman of the Elko County Republican Party is quoted as saying that she 'had some kind of a breakdown and decided she'd rather quit than testify Foster, A team of five investigators was sent to the area to interview employees, citizens, public officials and a tribal representative about their perceptions of the 'working environment for employees and the quality of external relationships' Fact Finding Report, February 4, In their page report, the team concluded, in part, that there were 'no incidents worthy of attention from the Justice Department' Morrison, This finding essentially misses the point.

However, the internal investigation was not the only inquiry. The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility PEER , a non-profit group which serves as an advocate for federal employees facing harassment, completed its own investigation and made their findings public. Attorney, Kathryn Landreth, for her unwillingness to prosecute criminal complaints brought forth by the Forest Service, including criminal acts other than the harassment of individuals. PEER's statistics show that from to , only eight prosecutions were brought of 18 cases that were referred for prosecution.

The record of the Landreth's office ranks in the bottom quarter 36th out of 47th among U. Forest Service estimates his agency's employees and property are attacked times a year. None of them have been solved by authorities' PEER, Taken together, Flora's charges, rather than being the 'hysterical exaggerations' that Representative Chenoweth-Hage suggests, appear to understate the problem. But it was a neutral, bureaucratic report. She characterized the report as 'Dickensonian. At a public hearing on the roadless initiative, Elko County officials addressed the crowd in true Sagebrush Rebellion language, a far cry from the collaboration and cooperation they professed to support to the investigators just that same morning.

Flora recounted a four month collaborative effort to resolve the Jarbidge situation. During the final meeting, two Elko County Commissioners and State Assemblyman Carpenter had taken a conciliatory tone with the group, reaching consensus on the scientific evidence that to rebuild the South Canyon Road would harm bull trout. Less than 24 hours later when speaking to the press the Commissioners backtracked, stating that they had in fact rejected the evidence. The internal investigative report effectively muted Flora's message, and the collective allegations were white-washed.

The issue of ownership over the road remains unresolved. Elko County claims ownership under Nevada Revised Statute which refers to the Mining Act which holds that a right of way for roads across public lands not previously reserved is hereby granted.