New Protocols!!!!

Fire Re-entry Data Photo

One of our fire re-entry plots

Last week we officially wrapped up our Habitat Assessment Framework monitoring for sage grouse habitat. We spent the next week working on Fire Re-entry! It was a nice change of pace to see other parts of the field office. We worked in the Timmerman Hills looking at areas that were seeded after the fire. This involved doing a point intercept to look at cover, looking at whether plants had seed heads or not, and pulling the grasses to see how well they were rooted. It was really interesting to see how the BLM makes decisions about how to manage after fires. We also got to see the fire plan, which details what was done to help the area recover after the fire. We got to get a look at the seed mixes the BLM plants after the fire. Most of the sites we looked at had non-native seed mixes, but two of them had native seeds planted. It was a really good look at the importance of establishing perennial grasses in these previously burned areas. We also did some fire re-entry in Beaver Creek, which was part of a massive fire in 2012 that burned in the northern part of our field office.

After the fire re-entry was done we moved on to Trend data collection. Trend is a long term data collection on grazing allotments. Trend sites are returned to every ten years to help look at how land management decisions are changing the landscape. For most of these sites we are returning to the Clover Creek allotment, but we are also doing one in the more northern parts of the field office, near the Sawtooth National Forest. This was a really fun site to do, because it is so different landscape wise from the area we have spent most of our time in.

The Clover Creek and Davis Mountain Allotments are in areas that have been shaped by volcanic activity. Craters of the Moon National Monument is in our field office. The Monument is lava fields, cinder cones, and lava tubes that were created millions of years ago by the same hot spot that is now underneath Yellowstone National Park. This means that a lot of the field office near it have lava rock and caves formed by the eruptions. While this makes for a really interesting geological area (that is really tricky to drive in), it was really nice to see some different landscape. The Elkhorn allotment was gorgeous. The forbs were still in flower and there were some beautiful flowers and some sage grouse preferred forbs! The area was also lacking the invasive plants, like cheat grass, in the lower part of the field office.

View from the trend plot in the northern part of the field office

View from the trend plot in the northern part of the field office


Trend is a completely different protocol than HAF, instead of line point intercept we were doing nested frequencies across four different transects. There is also a photo plot were you estimate cover of all the species present. Then you get to color! There is data sheet were you mark in all the species you see in a 3 by 3 frame.

Data sheet for 3 by 3 photo plot

Data sheet for 3 by 3 photo plot

While I was expecting to do HAF all summer I am really excited to get to do some other protocols. It is really interesting to see how the office makes management decisions and how all of these different monitoring activities come together to make decisions about land use.


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