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General Technical Reports

Monitoring programs designed to track ecosystem changes in response to both stressors and disturbances use repeated observations of ecosystem attributes. Such programs can increase our understanding of how interactions among resilience to disturbance, resistance to invasive species, and “change agents” including management actions influence resource conditions (or status) and trends and outcomes of conservation and restoration actions.
Native plant species are the foundation of sagebrush ecosystems and provide essential habitat for wildlife species, such as Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter, GRSG).
Management actions that enable adaptation to climate change and promote resilience to disturbance are becoming increasingly important in the sagebrush biome. In recent decades temperatures have increased, growing seasons have lengthened, and in many areas the timing and amount of precipitation has changed (Chambers et al. 2017 [hereafter, Part 1], section 4; Kunkel et al. 2013a,b,c).
In this report we provide a framework for assessing cross-boundary wildfire exposure and a case study application in the western U.S. The case study provides detailed mapping and tabular decision support materials for prioritizing fuel management investments aimed at reducing wildfire exposure to communities located proximal to national forests. The work was motivated by a number of factors, including a request from U.S.
Clifford A. Myers conceived the ponderosa pine growing stock levels (GSL) study in 1961 and completed installation of the study in 1963 in western South Dakota on the Black Hills Experimental Forest (BHEF). The GSL concept was intended to help plan, implement, and illustrate tree thinning strategies (from below) in even-aged stands. A GSL is the suggested tree density (i.e., trees and basal area per acre) based on d.b.h.
As highly productive and biologically diverse communities, healthy quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides; hereafter aspen) forests provide a wide range of ecosystem services across western North America. Western aspen decline during the last century has been attributed to several causes and their interactions, including altered fire regimes, drought, excessive use by domestic and wild ungulates, and conifer encroachment.
Land managers have long recognized the importance of maintaining soil productivity in the context of sustainable forest management. Soil disturbance that results in impaired hydrologic function and changes in certain soil properties (e.g., structure, organic matter) may be detrimental to soil productivity.
Managing for sagebrush ecosystems that are resilient to disturbance and resistant to invasive plants often requires managers to make tough decisions in the face of considerable complexity and uncertainty. The decisionmaking environment is often characterized by multiple management objectives, limited management authority and capabilities, dynamic ecosystems and plant communities, and uncertain responses to management actions.
One of the most significant stressors to the sagebrush biome is expansion and dominance of nonnative ecosystem-transforming species, particularly invasive annual and perennial plants.
Part 1 of the Science Framework identifies livestock grazing as the most widespread land use in the sagebrush biome (Chambers et al. 2017a; hereafter, Part 1). In the Conservation Objectives Team Report (USDOI FWS 2013) improper livestock grazing is considered a present and widespread threat to Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter, GRSG) for most GRSG populations.

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