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David Sparks Ph.d Cheat grass and wildfire
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: July 12, 2018

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Dr. Karen Launchbaugh is the Director of the University of Idaho's Rangeland Center. There is a program to eliminate junipers from 940 mi.² in Owyhee County in southwest Idaho. ““Junipers are crowding out sagebrush imperiling habitat for sage grouse? You are absolutely right and the other thing that Juniper does is that it provides a place for ravens, hawks and eagles to sit. Aerial predators are a problem for sage grouse chicks. The Juniper is crowding out the sagebrush but it is also crowding out grasses and grasses are what cattle eat. So if you remove Juniper you increase the production of forage or herbaceous grasses. That's why the cattlemen benefit along with elk and other wildlife that eat grasses.

Dr. Ann Kennedy, USDA Agricultural Research Service soil microbiologist at WSU who says that because cheatgrass matures in early spring and then dries out, it provides the perfect fuel for wildfires: “My greatest concern was this whole idea of the fire going through so quickly and destroying acres and acres and acres of land.”

So that’s one of the reasons that we have an increase in wildfires is the fact that these cheatgrass plants are invading and we’re not able to stop those wildfires because of the plant material that’s just so thick.”

Kennedy and her colleagues have studied the effect of inhibitory bacteria on cheatgrass.

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