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Researchers study how grazing on invasive grasses can affect wildfire threat

A stretch of raw land near Ironside in Malheur County. (The Enterprise/Rachel Parsons)

A research project by Oregon State University’s Extension Service in Malheur County is examining whether grazing on invasive grasses can help mitigate wildfire threats in the sagebrush steppe.

The goals behind the study are to improve rangeland health and to reduce fine fuels in the ecosystem, said Sergio Arispe, livestock and rangeland field faculty with OSU’s Extension Service in Malheur County. 

Fine fuels are invasive annual grasses that aren’t native to the sagebrush steppe ecosystem, he said. Depending on precipitation and soil type, the native vegetation can range widely from 350 to 1,200 pounds per acre in the sagebrush steppe.

Fine fuels can add 2,000-3,000 pounds per acre and . . .