Restoring range sites dominated by western juniper is central to maintaining healthy functioning shrub–steppe ecosystems. On sites without adequate species composition to respond favorably to juniper controlled by fire, revegetation is necessary. We tested the following two hypotheses related to restoration after juniper control: (1) higher seeding rates would translate into higher density of seeded species, and (2) a rich seeding mixture would provide higher density and biomass than monocultures. Western juniper control was done by cutting 25% of the trees in 2002, allowing cut trees to dry for one year, followed by a broadcast fire applied in October 2003 which killed the remaining live juniper trees. Seeding treatments were applied in 2003 and included seeding six native species in monocultures, seeding a mixture of all six species at four rates (16.8, 22.4, 28.0, or 33.6 kg ha−1 of pure live seeds), and a nonseeded control. Treatments were applied on a Sagebrush/bunchgrass and Snowberry/fescue site. We found that bluebunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, big bluegrass, and western yarrow density ranged from 450 to 700 plants m−2, which was over six-fold that of the control in 2004 at both sites. Only arrowleaf balsamroot did not establish successfully. The density of big bluegrass nearly doubled from 2004 to 2005. The highest plant density resulted from the highest seeding rate. The highest biomass production was combination seeding at 22.4 kg ha−1 on the Sagebrush/bunchgrass site and 33.6 kg ha−1 on the Snowberry/fescue site. Seeding a combination of species resulted in a moderate to high density of plants and optimized plant diversity and richness over seeding monocultures.
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Vol. 56 • No. 3