Science for


A collaborative experiment evaluating methods of sagebrush steppe restoration across six states in the Great Basin.


Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project

What do we do? The Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project is a regional experiment evaluating methods of sagebrush steppe restoration in the Great Basin. Sagebrush communities are one of the most threatened land types in North America — as much as half has already been lost in the Great Basin.

From 2005-2010, we implemented fuels treatments at study sites, and evaluated the short-term effects of land management options on a variety of ecosystem components. In 2011, we began a long-term monitoring phase of the project to better understand the changes in response to treatment over time. We continue to gather data that provides managers with information to make restoration decisions with reduced risk and uncertainty.

Ten Year Post-Treatment Guide


Using SageSTEP data, Samuel Wozniak (Soil Conservationist, USDA – NRCS) and Eva K. Strand (University of Idaho) created this guide to summarize fuel loads, vegetation cover by functional group, and shrub and tree stem density 10 years after sagebrush and pinyon-juniper reduction treatments.

How soon is too soon after a fire for sagebrush recruitment?

Ali Urza used data from SageSTEP sites to determine if seasonal environmental conditions could predict annual establishment density for sagebrush, and to evaluate the effect of the magnitude and frequency of post-fire establishment episodes on long-term population recovery.

Science You Can Use

Science You Can Use

Read short, digestible information from SageSTEP scientists on a number of topics related to our research.


Episodic Occurrence of Favourable Weather Constrains Recovery of a Cold Desert Shrubland After Fire

Key to the long-term resilience of dryland ecosystems is the recovery of foundation plant species following disturbance. In ecosystems with high interannual weather variability, understanding the influence of short-term environmental conditions on establishment of foundation species is essential for identifying vulnerable landscapes and developing restoration strategies. We asked how annual…

A Synthesis of the Effects of Cheatgrass Invasion on US Great Basin Carbon Storage

Non-native, invasive Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass) is pervasive in sagebrush ecosystems in the Great Basin ecoregion of the western United States, competing with native plants and promoting more frequent fires. As a result, cheatgrass invasion likely alters carbon (C) storage in the region. Many studies have measured C pools in one…

Plant Functional Groups and Species Contribute to Ecological Resilience a Decade After Woodland Expansion Treatments

Woody plant expansions are altering ecosystem structure and function, as well as fire regimes, around the globe. Tree-reduction treatments are widely implemented in expanding woodlands to reduce fuel loads, increase ecological resilience, and improve habitat, but few studies have measured treatment outcomes over long timescales or large geographic areas. The…

Pinyon and Juniper Expansion

In the past 100 years, pinyon and juniper trees have expanded their historic range. Learn why this happens, and the strengths and weaknesses of management remedies.

Pocket Guide to Sagebrush by Leila Schultz

Written for anyone interested in learning more about sagebrush species and habitats. It provides descriptions of some of the remarkably diverse sagebrush communities in western North America. The purpose of the guide is to give identifying characteristics and range maps of 18 species of sagebrush, encompassing 27 different kinds (including subspecies and hybrids).

Our Mission

To study the effects of land management options on sagebrush communities, experiments were conducted across a regional network of sites. We use this network to understand the thresholds between healthy and unhealthy sagebrush communities over a broad range of conditions across the Great Basin. We are evaluating treatment effects on plants, potential for wildfire, soils, water runoff and erosion, and birds and insects. Economic analyses have been conducted to assist managers in selecting optimal management strategies, and citizens’ and managers’ views about the management actions are being evaluated. The first experiment is focused on cheatgrass invasion (Cheatgrass Network), and the second experiment is focused on woodland encroachment (Woodland Network).

Meet our Team

Study Sites


Lisa Ellsworth
Project Co-coordinator
Dept. Fisheries & Wildlife
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR  97331
(541) 737-0008

Beth Newingham
Project Co-coordinator
GB Rangelands Research
USDA Ag. Res. Service
Reno, NV  89512
(775) 784-6057 ext. 233

© Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project (SageSTEP)
Site Designed by Kite Media