In 2004 the U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Rawlins Field Office (RFO), began a cooperative effort to reestablish the Stratton Sagebrush Hydrology Study Area (Stratton) as a research location, with the goal of making it a site for long-term research on sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecology. No other long-term research sites in high-elevation sagebrush habitat currently exist, and the Stratton area, with its 30+ year history of research and baseline data, was a logical location to restart investigations aimed at answering pertinent and timely questions about sagebrush ecology and sagebrush-obligate species. During the first year of the study, USGS scientists conducted an in-depth literature search to locate publications from research conducted at Stratton. We contacted previous researchers to acquire literature and unpublished reports of work conducted at Stratton. Collated papers and published manuscripts were presented in an annotated bibliography (Burgess and Schoenecker, 2004). A second goal was to establish Stratton as a host location for researchers interested in sagebrush ecology investigations. We contacted staff and professors from Colorado State University and Wyoming and Montana universities to notify them of the opportunities at Stratton. Several institutions showed interest in the area and the potential of such a research site. A major advantage of the Stratton site is the ability of BML to coordinate activities on the land, manipulate grazing in cooperation with permit holders, and direct other activities to accommodate appropriate long-term experimental designs. A third goal was to evaluate grazing management after a prescribed burn. The BLM widely uses prescribed burns as a tool for land management and grazing management. In general, BLM policy restricts grazing after a wildfire for two or more years. Some BLM offices allow no grazing after a wildfire or prescribed treatment for at least two years. Conversely, the RFO often allows grazing following a prescribed burn directly after the peak growing season the following year. This procedure is used for two years post-burn, after which grazing management is directed by local conditions and goals. We are investigating this practice to evaluate the effects on plant production and nutrient cycling. The RFO specifically wants to know if there are any negative effects from grazing one season after a prescribed burn.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
2004 annual progress report: Stratton Sagebrush Hydrology Study Area: establishment of a long-term research site in a high-elevation sagebrush steppe