Restoring Productivity After Natural Disaster
In each of the last 5 years, wildfires in the 17 U.S. western states averaged 4.6 million acres burned. As a result, ranchers have to replace fences, watering stations, corrals, barns, and stored feed, as well as reduce their herd sizes or make other arrangements to feed their cattle.
The Federal Government also loses more than $54 million a year in rangeland rental fees. Erosion following wildfire also is a major concern, not only for the productivity of the range site but also for water quality.
ARS scientists in Burns, OR, Cheyenne, WY, and Miles City, MT, have developed management strategies that reduce the buildup of dry plant material that fuels large wildfires, making wildfires less likely and less damaging when they occur. They also have found ways to minimize the long-term damage from erosion after a fire by restoring native shrubs and grasses.