One of the biggest confusion points in brush management is the decision between removing, reducing, or manipulating woody plants. Past management decisions have addressed the symptoms of woody encroachment but not the root cause of the problem. To contribute to the efforts to confront the loss of grasslands at county and state, clarity is needed on which woody species need complete removal versus species who can be reduced or manipulated without the threat of grassland loss.
The current standards for brush management are designed to achieve a desired plant community. Removal, reduction, or manipulation of woody plants is accomplished by mechanical, chemical, burning, or biological methods.
In the table below, a classification of woody species is listed. Each is categorized under different recommendations for brush management. These classifications range from woody species that cause large-scale state transition, species that cause local-scale state transitions, and species that do not cause state transitions but increase or decrease within the historical ecological state.
The recommendation of the removal of woody species that cause large-scale transitions is due to the fact that these species account for severe consequences of woody encroachment. These include lost forage production, heightened wildfire danger, reduced water quantity and quality, higher risk of soil erosion, less funding for public education, vector-borne disease risks, and increased allergen potential. In addition, these transitions are hard to reverse.
For more information on removal, reduction, or manipulation, be sure to read the full publication.
For more information on this series, be sure to check out the Prairie Project Website.