Project Description
SageSTEP (Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project) is a regional experiment to evaluate methods of sagebrush steppe restoration in the Great Basin.

The sagebrush steppe land type occupies 100 million acres in the Western U.S. This land type is characterized by large, dry, open areas with few trees (steppe), and consists of plant communities dominated by sagebrush with a mixture of other shrubs and grasses in the understory. Healthy sagebrush steppe communities in the Great Basin are rapidly disappearing due to invasion of non-native plants (especially cheatgrass), catastrophic wildfires, and encroachment of pinyon-juniper woodlands. Sagebrush communities have been identified as one of the most threatened land types in North America, and as much as half of this land type has already been lost in the Great Basin. Many of the sagebrush communities that remain are in poor health (the sagebrush plants are old and unproductive and other native plants are scarce in the understory).

Funded by the Joint Fire Science Program, SageSTEP is a 5-year study that will explore ways to restore sagebrush communities. Land management options, including prescribed fire, mechanical thinning of shrubs and trees, and herbicide application will help land managers learn how to reduce the potential for wildfire and restore healthy and diverse native plant communities. The project is fully interdisciplinary, with ecological, economic, and social components. Results of this project will provide resource managers with improved information to make restoration management decisions with reduced risk and uncertainty.