The 2008 Joint Meeting of the Society for Range Management and the America Forage and Grassland Council.

Monday, January 28, 2008 - 4:40 PM

Advancement of Select Native Perennial Grasses for Portions of the Colorado Plateau

Stephen B. Monsen, USDA Forest Service (retired), 1097 North Main, Mapleton, UT 84664, Allan R. Stevens, Biology, Snow College, 150 East College Ave, Ephraim, UT 84627, and Ronald L. Rodriguez, USDA Forest Service, 1789 North Wedgewood, Cedar City, UT 84720.

Combined efforts have been developed to select and advance native plants to restore big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata and Pinyon/juniper communities throughout the upper Colorado Plateau.  The principal species that occur within these diverse plant associations have been identified and studies developed to advance each plant for commercial seed production. Ecological studies have been developed to define the distribution of individual species to assure the assembly of the principal germplasm that occurs in this geographical region.  Field inventories were completed in 2006 and 2007 to identify the different ecological sites in which Poa secunda, Poa fendleriana, Hesperostipa comata, Koeleria macrantha, Elymus elymoides and Achnatherum hymenoides occur. The distribution of each species was mapped based on environment features that influence the occurrence of different ecotypes. Physical and biological factors that determine species presence, annual flowering, seed production, and seed quality were evaluated and recorded on all sites. Seed collection maps and ecological zones were documented for future references and ecological studies. Plant distribution maps will be used to assist in establishing wildland nursery sites for reciprocal plantings and compare plant responses and site adaptability. Tree invasion, grazing, and more recent advancement of annual weeds have displaced extensive populations of perennial herbs.  Loss of germplasm from major plant associations is a major concern in natural recovery and active restoration measures. Rearing large amounts of native seeds from agricultural fields will be required to restore existing and annual disturbances. Selecting and propagating adapted ecotypes or population is a major consideration.