Mapping the cheatgrass-caused departure from historical natural fire regimes in the Great Basin, USA
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
Author(s): James P. Menakis; Dianne Osborne; Melanie Miller
Editor(s): Philip N. Omi; Linda A. Joyce
Publication Year: 2003

Cataloging Information

  • Bromus tectorum
  • cheatgrass
  • exotic grasses
  • fire regime
  • FRCC - Fire Regime Condition Class
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: April 10, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 13211


Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is an exotic grass that has increased fire hazard on millions of square kilometers of semi-arid rangelands in the western United States. Cheatgrass aggressively out competes native vegetation after fire and significantly enhances fire size and frequency. To evaluate the effect of cheatgrass on historical natural fire regimes, we combined cheatgrass data mapped from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer images of the Great Basin with Fire Regime Condition Class (FRCC) data mapped from plant succession data incorporated with several spatial data layers for the conterminous United States. These FRCCs depict the degree of departure from historical fire regimes resulting in alterations of key ecosystem components such as species composition, structural stage, stand age, and canopy closure. While the FRCC data layer adequately depicted forest communities, it insufficiently depicted grassland and shrubland communities. By adding cheatgrass, FRCC 3 (areas that have been significantly altered from their historical range) increased by 20 percent on Federal lands to almost 60,522 square kilometers for the conterminous United States.

Online Link(s):
Link to this document (10.3 MB; pdf)
Menakis, James P.; Osborne, Dianne; Miller, Melanie. 2003. Mapping the cheatgrass-caused departure from historical natural fire regimes in the Great Basin, USA. Pages 281-287. In: Omi, Philip N.; Joyce, Linda A. (technical editors). Fire, Fuel Treatments, and Ecological Restoration: Conference Proceedings: 16-18 April 2002: Fort Collins, Colorado. Proceedings RMRS-P-29. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.