Learning Together: Great Basin Science Delivery
Principal Investigator(s):
  • Mark W. Brunson
    Utah State University
Co-Principal Investigator(s):
  • Michael L. Pellant
    Bureau of Land Management
  • Genie MontBlanc
    University of Nevada-Reno
  • Sandra K. Brewer
    Bureau of Land Management

Cataloging Information

  • cheatgrass
  • collaboration
  • fire return interval
  • GBFSE - Great Basin Fire Science Exchange
  • information sharing
  • vegetation
JFSP Project Number(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: May 5, 2016
FRAMES Record Number: 14504


We will address fire science information needs in the floristic Great Basin. In only one generation, over 12,424 ha2 of land managed largely by BLM in the Great Basin have been transformed from native shrublands to a near-monoculture of cheatgrass. This altered vegetative state has resulted in more continuous fuels and a cheatgrass-wildlife cycle that is characterized by a much shorter fire return interval than the ecosystem experienced historically. In mid- to upper-elevation shrublands, expansion and progressive infilling of pinyon and juniper trees in sagebrush communities is causing loss of native understory, increases in woody fuels, and fires of greater frequency, size and intensity. BLM is the largest, but not the only land management agency trying to cope with the altered fire regimes that now characterize much of the Great Basin. Improving the effectiveness of fire, fuels, and post-fire management in the fire-ruled sagebrush biome is essential to protecting Great Basin resources. Fire and fuels-related research in the Great Basin is providing much of the information needed to improve management however penetration of this information to public land managers and its application on the ground is uneven and often limited. Agency employees feel besieged as fire frequency and size continue to increase and invasive species are gaining ground. Employees increasing report low job satisfaction because they are unable to complete everything they are asked to do and provide the quality of work they believe is needed to be successful land managers. In response to these needs, we propose to develop a culture of praxis within the land management agencies and with the scientific communities in which employees are engaged in a cycle of activity and reflection, so that their experience directs their subsequent enquiry, learning, and activity. Praxis requires real collaboration, in which students and teachers are jointly engaged in learning and all are teachers and students. We have developed a model for science delivery that is based on the information collected in the planning phase and that is structured to cultivate agency capacity. The information content for all of these products and activities will be based on the ecological role of fire and managing and using fire in the Great Basin ecosystem. To create a technology transfer environment in which the knowledge of all the participants is accessible, we will use the principles of participatory assessment, monitoring and evaluation. Our model focuses on what federal land managers self-identify as need to know, rather than on what outside experts have to tell. Program evaluation will occur in two critical areas: program structure and program content. The evaluation of program structure will be iterative and will focus on whether the programs organizational and physical structure effectively meets the needs of our end-user community  field level technical specialists within the target agencies. Content evaluation will assess whether the actual materials developed met the needs of the users. Throughout the duration of this program, we will solicit input and feedback from our target audience to assess if the materials they receive provide appropriate information (technology) in a useful format.