National Park Service

Upper Columbia Basin Network (UCBN)

Sagebrush Steppe Vegetation Monitoring

Sage brush steppe monitoring plot at City of Rocks NR
Sage brush steppe monitoring plot at City of Rocks NR

Sagebrush Steppe Monitoring Resource Briefs

Sagebrush Steppe Monitoring Reports

Sagebrush Steppe Monitoring Protocol & Procedures

For more information contact: Tom Rodhouse

Parks Monitored

Video: Monitoring the Sagebrush Steppe

 

Importance / Issues

  • Sagebrush steppe is the most abundant vegetation type in the Upper Columbia Basin Network.
  • Significant portions of the sagebrush steppe have been converted to agriculture and heavily grazed rangeland, and much of what remains has been degraded through altered fire regimes and invasion of introduced plants.
  • These changes have resulted in native flora and fauna declines, decreased soil stability, and reduced hydrologic function. Land use practices both within and adjacent to the Network parks continue to fragment and alter steppe ecosystems and predicted climate change scenarios will likely intensify these stressors.
  • Plant invasion and shifting community composition and species abundance is the overarching concern for Network park managers. Indicators of sagebrush steppe biotic integrity, hydrologic function, and soil/site stability are the focus of the protocol, which will provide managers with information necessary to evaluate progress in activities related to maintaining and restoring native plant communities.

Monitoring Objectives

  • Determine the status (current condition) and trends (change in condition over time) in the composition and abundance (cover) of principal native plant species in UCBN sagebrush steppe communities.
  • Determine the status and trends in composition and abundance (cover) of principal invasive plant species, including annual grasses, in UCBN sagebrush steppe communities.
  • Determine the status and trend in the amount of exposed soil (cover), a fundamental indicator of soil stability.

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Last Updated: April 05, 2017 Contact Webmaster