Plants and Range Management

Ed Peterson and Karlie Smith


2011 images available for viewing here
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Rangeland is important because it provides open spaces, wildlife habitat and resources for livestock production. Range plants provide forage for animals and wildlife. Range plants also hold the soil in place and prevent erosion. 
Some examples are:

There are three main groups of range plants: grasses, forbs, and shrubs.  Grasses have slender leaves and hollow stems.  The veins on grasses run along the length of the leaves. Forbs include weeds and wildflowers that are broad-leaved and grow in fields, prairies, or meadows. Shrubs are woody plants of relatively low height, having several woody  stems arising from the base and lack a single trunk.  There are also grass like plants called sedges that have narrow, grass like leaves, but having solid stems, and grow around rivers, streams, and springs.

Annual plants die every year and come back from seed. Perennial plants come back year after year from live roots. Annual grass has smaller superficial roots compared to perennial grasses.
Different range animals eat different things that humans need to manage for the animals. Mule deer need more shrub growth than the antelope, which eats more perennial grasses.  Sage grouse require a very intricate ecosystem.  They need between 15-25% sagebrush coverage to survive.  They eat the sagebrush, forbs, and perennial grasses, but the birds also eat the soft bug nests found in perennials grasses that grow near sagebrush.

Some of the leaves of the sage species actually have different fluorescence in ultraviolet light! These differences can be used to help distinguish between them.

For more about plants, visit our vegetation database

The Owyhee Watershed Council's educational activities are supported by the
Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.

For further information please contact:
Nicole Sullivan
Owyhee Watershed Coordinator
(541) 372-5782