Rangeland Restoration on the Channel Scablands of Eastern Washington

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2013: $49,931.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Western
State: Utah
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Kip Panter

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: range improvement
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency
  • Farm Business Management: risk management
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    The Channel Scablands of eastern Washington State is an 800 square mile area like none other in the world, with geological, historical, aesthetic and economic significance. This Mars-like landscape, created by catastrophic floods 12,000 to 20,000 years ago, has important economic significance to the western U.S. for cattle grazing, wildlife survival, hunting and tourism. The grazing lands in this region have been degraded from overgazing in the early decades of the last century and exacerbated by frequent wildfires and subsequent invasion of annual grasses (cheatgrass and medusahead rye) and undesirable forbs (fiddleneck, rush skeletonweed, mustards, hairy vetch, etc). The intent of this project is multifaceted: 1)demonstrate that improved grass species, select native species and beneficial forbs can be established on this harsh scabland landscape; 2) evaluate the ability of these species to compete with invasive annual grasses and forbs; 3) improve overall forage quality to enhance livestock and wildlife grazing; and 4) increase forage value for cow-calf producers to reduce the economic impact of lupine-induced "crooked calf syndrome." This will be accomplished through a series of studies including replicated plots on five ranches to determine which grass and forb species are best suited for the region. These plots will be established on ranches across a 40 mile transect of the scablands to take advantage of different rangeland conditions, environmental factors and variations in microclimates. The grass species selected include three improved varieties (Hycrest II, Vavilov II and Bozoiski II), four natives ("Sherman" Big Bluegrass, "Recovery" Western Wheatgrass, "Secar" Snake River Wheatgrass and "Bannock" Thickspike Wheatgrass) and three forage kochia varieties ("Immigrant", "Sahro" and "Otovny"). Grass and forb species will be selected from the replicated plots and seeded into larger demonstration plots (1-2 acres) whereby producers, land managers and others can observe the research outcomes on a production scale.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Year 1

    1. Select study sites. We will establish experimental seeding plots on five ranches across a 40 mile transect to evaluate different rangelandconditions, soil types, environmental factors and microclimates.

    2. Prepare seeding plots. We will use limited herbicide treatments and two tillage applications to prepare replicated plots on the five selected individual ranches. Plots will be 10 feet wide by X 50 feet long divided into two tillage applications, a 25 foot disturbed (disked) section and a 25 foot undisturbed section.

    3. Plant selected perennial grasses and forbs. Treatments will include control, Mixed Natives, Hycrest II, Vavilov II, Bozoisky II,
    Immigrant + Vavilov II, Otavny + Vavilov II and Sahro + Vavilov II replicated four times across both tillage applications. This will be
    repeated on each of five ranches. Germination data will be collected in the fall of year 1.

    Year 2

    1. Evaluate germination and seedling establishment. Count germination responses in each of the replicated plots and record data. In the late
    summer or early fall of year 2, clip plots to compare biomass and forage quality.

    2. Analyze data from year 1 and 2 and prepare reports for distribution to producers, land managers and others. Depending on data
    outcome, a stakeholder meeting may be held the fall or winter of year two or the following spring.

    Year 3

    1. Evaluate plots and collect data. Plots will be evaluated using a quarter meter squared clipping frame to compare number of
    plants between treatment. Frames will be clipped to compare biomass and samples will be analyzed for forage quality. Data will be
    statistically evaluated comparing germination, persistence, biomass and forage quality using mixed model statistical procedures.

    2. Prepare information bulletins for distribution to producers, land managers and others.

    3. Analyzed data will be prepared and reported in a peer-reviewed publication and extension bulletins.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.