- Malheur Experiment Station
Rangeland restoration includes the creation and preservation of wildlife habitats, resulting in increased plant biodiversity, a reduction in the number of endangered plant and animal species, and a reduction in weeds and invasive species (Woodland Restoration).
Rangelands consist of many types of land, including grasslands, sagebrush steppe, woodlands, wetlands, and deserts. They provide homes for wildlife and help provide clean air and water (Rangeland Ecology). Within rangelands, native plants grow unassisted. Native plants are more beneficial to environments than most invasive species for many reasons. The native animals and insects may have beneficial, symbiotic relationships with native plants. If native plants disappear, other members of the ecosystem will suffer. Invasive species often are unable to support the web of life supported by native plants.
Rangeland forest fires can devastate formerly abundant native plant populations. When native plants have been destroyed, invasive species (nonnative species) as well as native species previously less abundant or limited in range, such as juniper can begin to grow, proliferate, and take over an area. Invasive species can out-compete existing native species, making it nearly impossible for native plants to reestablish. Invasive species have the capacity to upset overall ecosystem health. (The Impact of Invasive Species).
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service are working toward being able to revitalize rangelands that have been devastated by fires. These organizations purchase wildflower seeds, learn how to grow them, and plant them in damaged areas. Although native wildflowers can be very difficult to establish and grow, the results are well worth the difficulties.
Some of the difficulties associated with restoring rangelands include lack of available seed and lack of information on how to get new plantings established. For more information about restoring rangelands, please see Rangelands.
To restore disturbed and destroyed rangelands to their natural states, native wildflower and shrub seed planting may be essential. By establishing wildflowers, areas may once again provide a suitable and sustainable animal habitat, increase plant diversity, and might help defend against invasive species.