Restoring and Managing the “Emerald Islands” of the Sagebrush Sea
New Science, Sticks and Stones, and the Eager Beaver
In sagebrush ecosystems of the American West, mesic habitats—wet, green areas such as streamsides, springs, or meadows—comprise only small fraction of the arid landscape. Yet these habitats are the lifeblood that sustain people and wildlife during the summer. These “emerald islands” retain enough soil moisture to remain productive late in the growing season, making them vital grocery stores that supply nutritious food and water for working lands and wildlife when uplands dry out.
Recent partnership efforts to holistically conserve sagebrush rangelands from ridgetops to valley bottoms have brought a renewed focus to conserving these rare mesic habitats. Restoration and management opportunities abound but approaches that are relatively simple, low cost, and effective are needed to engage more landowners and partners in conservation at meaningful scales.
The following science highlights: (1) examples of relatively simple yet effective approaches land managers are scaling up to boost resilience to drought, (2) new science and technology for quantifying outcomes of restoration and informing conservation targeting, and (3) provide an in-depth look at how managers are partnering with beaver in riparian restoration.
A framework for scaling up conservation of wet habitats in sagebrush country (Jeremy Maestas, Thad Heater, Dave Naugle, Patrick Donnelly, Brady Allred, Nick Silverman, and Michael Brown)
Patterning ecological minimums; seasonal drought and spatiotemporal dynamics of primary production in the sagebrush biome (Patrick Donnelly, Brady Allred, Dave Naugle, and Nick Silverman)
Practical grazing management strategies to maintain or restore riparian functions and values on rangelands (Sherm Swanson and Sandy Wyman)
Managing Livestock Grazing for Riparian Recovery in Northeastern Nevada (Carol Evans, Gregg Simonds, Eric Sant, Kurt Fesenmyer)
Rehydrating Nevada: A Story about Cows, Creeks and Collaboration (Jon Griggs and Carol Evans)
Sticks and stones: Low-tech riparian and wet meadow restoration in the Gunnison Basin (Nathan W. Seward and Betsy Neely)
The plants don’t lie: Vegetation monitoring reveals success of riparian and wet meadow restoration (Renée Rondeau, Gay Austin, and Suzanne Parker)
The Bridge Creek restoration story: Beaver, BDAs, and grazing management (Nick Weber, Nick Bouwes, Chris Jordan, and Joe Wheaton)
The grass is always greener: Quantifying outcomes of low-tech riparian and wet meadow restoration using remote sensing (Nicholas L. Silverman, Brady Allred, Dave Naugle, Patrick Donnelly, and Jeremy Maestas)
New technology and frontiers: Efficiently measuring conservation outcomes through time with Google Earth Engine (Brady Allred, Dave Naugle, Patrick Donnelly, Jeremy Maestas, Matt Jones, Nick Silverman) Afternoon Moderator: Eric Thacker
Planning, designing, and implementing effective beaver-assisted riparian restoration projects (Joe M. Wheaton, Nick Bouwes, Chris Jordan, and Nick Weber)
Ecosystem pioneers: Examining beaver dispersal and settlement site selection to improve riparian restoration efforts (Torrey D. Ritter, Lance B. McNew)
Beaver Ponds As Crucial Habitat for a Sensitive Great Basin Amphibian (Kent Mcadoo and Chad Mellison)
Potential producer benefits of beaver restoration: Box Elder County demo project (Jay Tanner, Della Ranches)