The objective of this study was to determine the effect of burn status and grazing post-fire on species composition of annual- grass rangeland in northern California. Using single factor, completely randomized design, 1×1 meter plots were established on burned and unburned (control) sites (6 replications per treatments). Plant community composition based on relative species frequency was determined at each study site by sampling years 1,5, and 10. Vegetation was measured by type of percent coverage in the two treatments. E. moschatum, Taeniatherum caput- medusae, and Vicia sativa were significant (P< 0.
05) for percent coverage. Bare ground (P= 0.119), Hordeum murinum (P=0.067), and Trifolium hirtum (P=0.073) were not significant (P>0.05) for percent coverage collected. Data were analyzed using complete randomized design ANOVA. Results suggest that grazing livestock should be allowed back on rangeland allotments in California sooner than the two-year blanket policy used by many land managers. California’s Mediterranean climate makes for a unique environment different from other rangelands in the united States. A different policy for different rangeland locations such as in northern California would reduce fuel loads as a preventative to fire season and invasive species post fires.
With recent wildlife burning hundreds of thousands of acres more and more consistently, law makers to land managers have been looking into better management practices for mountainous areas to grass and rangelands. One common idea from land and livestock owners has been adjusting the 2-year post fire grazing rule.
Many studies have examined plant species response to wildfire, but not invasive species regarding allowing grazing animals to return on land.
Fuel loads increase with a lack of understanding of land management and because little research has been conducted on the effects of earlier re introduction of grazers to rangeland, it has been a battle for landowners and livestock owners.
In a previous study of a fire in 2000 showed sheep re introduction had little to no effect on vegetation recovery (Roselle, L. 2010 et. al,). The results of that study showed the cover of annual grasses was not affected by the grazer re introductions of 1 to 3 years. This also showed true for perennial coverage, but annual plant coverage was varied.
It is hard to compare this exact study to previous because there has been little done as a combination of grazing post fire and the effects of vegetation recovery. Although during this study there was nothing that blatantly went wrong, future research needs to continue to strive for a better understanding of ecosystem influences (including grazing, fires, and plant species).
Land managers need to reconsider allowing grazing livestock back on rangeland sooner than two- year “recovery” period in California. This study determined invasive species such as E. moschatum (Filaree) and Taeniatherum caput- medusae (medusa head) showed significant coverage and produced additional fuel load post fire. In summary, grazing livestock should be allowed back onto rangeland sooner than two years to help prevent invasive species and lower fuel load.