• Wyoming big sagebrush seed production from mined and unmined rangelands

      Booth, D. T.; Bai, Y.; Roos, E. E. (Society for Range Management, 2003-09-01)
      Wyoming Coal Rules and Regulations require shrubs be returned to mined land and that revegetation "...be self renewing." We evaluated seed production and seed quality of Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. wyomingensis (Beetle Young)) by measuring the effect of mining, herbivory, and environmental modification on seed production at 5 sites on the Dave Johnston Coal Mine near Glenrock, Wyo. Mined-land stands ranged in age from 5 to >20 years. Single sagebrush plants on mined, and adjacent unmined land were treated by: (1) fabric mulch around the base, (2) windbreak on the north and west, (3) both mulch and windbreak, and (4) neither windbreak nor mulch. Plants were fenced and compared with unfenced, untreated, neighboring plants. Seeds were harvested for 3 years and data were collected on seed-stalk numbers, bulk weight of seeds produced, and seed quality. Fenced mined-land plants produced several times more seeds than fenced plants on adjacent unmined land. There was no difference in seed quality. Treatments to modify the plant environment resulted in some benefits but fencing had a greater effect on seed-quality parameters than did planned treatments. We conclude the sagebrush seed-production potential on reclaimed lands such as those of the Dave Johnston Coal Mine is equal to, and often several times greater than that of adjacent unmined lands. However, browsing by wild ungulates can eliminate the mined-land yield advantage.