2015 Restoration Strategies & Equipment
Forb Islands: Possible Techniques to Improve Forb Seedling Establishment for Diversifying Sagebrush-Steppe Communities
Derek Tilley, Scott Jensen, Kris Hulvey, Erica David, Doug Johnson, Matt Madsen, Jim Cane, Tom Monaco, and Tom Jones
Public land management agencies (BLM, FS) are interested in expanding the biodiversity of rangeland plantings. Diverse native Great Basin forbs are essential for feeding both native pollinator communities (Cane, 2008; Watrous and Cane, 2011; Cane, 2011; Cane et al., 2012, 2013) and wildlife, especially sage-grouse (Wisdom et al, 2002; Rowland et al., 2006). The seeding of native grasses and shrubs on Great Basin sage-steppe sites has been increasingly successful in recent years. Although many native forb species are becoming more commercially available because of GBNPP collaborations, establishment of native forbs remains sporadic and challenging. The period of favorable soil water and temperature conditions is often not long enough for successful forb establishment. A possible alternative to conventional seeding of forb species is to establish forb islands (distinct focal areas where forbs are established) that employ techniques to extend the favorable period for germination and establishment of Great Basin forbs. These forb islands could be sources of seed for the colonization of adjacent rangeland areas in subsequent years.
- Determine if the patented Hollow Frame Snow System (HFFS) or N-Sulate fabric in combination with seed pelleting technology can be used to successfully establish important Great Basin forbs in islands at three sites in Utah and Idaho.
We anticipate that combinations of HFFS, N-Sulate fabric, and seed pelleting will create favorable winter and spring conditions that will warm the soil, retain spring surface moisture, and alleviate dormancy issues to enhance the establishment of forb species. If successful, these temporary mobile techniques could be used to create diverse forb islands across post-burn landscapes that will provide critical food for sage-grouse and native pollinators.