Land Management Treatments

Land management treatments have taken place at the majority of the SageSTEP sites. For more information about individual sites and their locations, see the SageSTEP Network Map. Click on the links below for photos and information about treatments.

Prescribed Fire

There are prescribed fire plots at all sites in both the Cheatgrass and Woodland Networks. At sites where burns have been implemented, results have varied widely depending on fuels characteristics and weather conditions. Even in cases where fire crews had to return to the site after a burn, all study subplots have been thoroughly burned to facilitate the experiment.

Prescribed burns have been implemented at SageSTEP study sites as follows:

Fall 2008: Hart Mountain – Gray Butte, Owyhee, Saddle Mountain, South Ruby Mountains
Fall 2007: Blue Mountain, Devine Ridge, Greenville Bench, Hart Mountain – Rock Creek, Roberts, Scipio, Seven Mile, Stansbury
Fall 2006: Marking Corral, Onaqui Sage/Cheat, Onaqui Sage/Woodland, Bridge Creek, Walker Butte

Photos from Onaqui Sage/Cheat

Onaqui sage/cheat prescribed fire.

BLM firefighters ignite the fire at Onaqui.

Helitorch at the Onaqui woodland prescribed burn.

Firefighter using a driptorch at the Onaqui woodland burn.

Onaqui woodland burn.

Photos from Walker Butte

Walker Butte prescribed fire.

Walker Butte prescribed fire.

Photos from Marking Corral

Firefighters using driptorches at the Marking Corral burn.

Marking Corral prescribed fire.

Marking Corral prescribed fire.

Photos from Bridge Creek

Firefighters at the Bridge Creek prescribed fire.

Bridge Creek after the burn.

Other Sagebrush Treatments

Mowing and herbicide applications are part of the treatment regime for all sites in the Cheatgrass Network. Sagebrush is being mowed to a height of approximately 12 inches, and the compound tebuthiuron (Spike 20P) is being applied at a rate of 1-1.5 lbs/acre in the form of pellets dropped aerially to thin sagebrush. Plateau pre-emergent herbicide is sprayed on several subplots (crossed with the four main treatments–prescribed fires, tebuthiuron, mowing, control) to study the potential for cheatgrass control.

Mowing and herbicide treatments have been implemented at SageSTEP study sites as follows:

Fall 2008: Hart Mountain – Gray Butte, Moses Coulee, Owyhee, Saddle Mountain

Fall 2007: Hart Mountain – Rock Creek, Roberts

Fall 2006: Onaqui Sage/Cheat


Mechanical thinning of sagebrush to encourage understory growth is being studied at the SageSTEP sagebrush sites. Sagebrush was mowed to approximately 12-15 inches, while the understory remained primarily in tact.


Tractor pulling the mower at the Onaqui study site.

Sagebrush plant after being mowed with un-mowed plants in the background.

Tebuthiuron (Spike 20P) was applied aerial at all sagebrush study sites to thin the sagebrush and encourage understory growth.

Aerial application of the tebuthiuron herbicide at the Moses Coulee study site.

Imazapic (Plateau) pre-emergent herbicide was crossed with the four main treatments (prescribed fire, tebuthiuron, mowing, and control) on half of the sub-plots at all sagebrush study sites to control cheatgrass. This herbicide is applied by hand and the rate depends on the amount of understory growth on the plot.

Plateau pre-emergent herbicide being sprayed on the Onaqui sagebrush/cheatgrass burn plot.

Other Woodland Treatments

The mechanical treatment for all sites in the Woodland Network involves clearcutting all trees taller than 1/2 meter using a chainsaw and leaving them where they fall. An additional mechanical treatment, tree mastication (using a Bull Hog™), will be applied at the Utah woodland sites. This treatment is taking place because it has been of local interest to Utah landowners.

Chainsaw and mastication treatments (Utah only*) have been implemented at SageSTEP study sites as follows:

Fall 2008: Saddle Mountain, South Ruby Mountains

Fall 2007: Blue Mountain, Devine Ridge, Greenville Bench*, Scipio*, Seven Mile, Stansbury*

Fall 2006: Marking Corral, Onaqui Sage/Woodland*, Bridge Creek, Walker Butte

The chainsaw treatment involves cutting all trees larger than .5m and leaving them where they fall. Limbs were not severed from the trunk after being cut.


A sawyer cuts a Utah juniper tree at the Onaqui woodland site.

Foreground: cut juniper trees; background: Onaqui woodland prescribed burn plot.

Tree Mastication
The Bull Hog™ treatment has been implemented at SageSTEP study sites in Utah only. All trees within mastication plots were mulched and the mulch was left where it fell.


The Bull Hog™ pushes over and mulches a juniper tree.

Mulch that was left behind by the Bull Hog™.

The Bull Hog™.

Bull Hog™ “teeth”.


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

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