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THE nature conservancy, oregon

climate challenge: Bigger and Hotter Fires

grant award: $119,865; Year awarded: 2018

Native perennial bunchgrasses (NPBGs) are a resilient species and key to maintaining biodiversity, ecosystem functionality, and normal frequency of fires in a given area. However, millions of acres of sagebrush are being replaced by invasive annual grasses, which serve as dry fuel and increase the likelihood and intensity of wildfires. Annual grasses typically outcompete NPBGs in areas degraded after fires, resulting in a positive feedback loop increasing the frequency of fires and destroying the ecological capacity of habitat and the biodiversity it supports. To restore the number of NPBGs in the Juniper Hills Preserve in eastern Oregon, this project will use herbicide protections pods (HPPs), a novel/innovative technique, which neutralize herbicides and protect seeds contained in the pods. Herbicides applied to invasive annual grasses will not impact the NPBGs in pods, reducing competition for the native bunchgrasses, increasing the landscape’s resistance to future invasive species, and lowering the probability of large-scale wildfires.