Sagebrush ecosystems in the US have eroded to about 56% of their historical range due to land degradation, especially from wildfire and invasive species propagation. While these ecosystems provide vital habitat for many native species found in the west, sagebrush rangelands represent one of the most endangered ecosystems in the country.
In response, Lithium Americas partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation (UNR Foundation) and established the Great Basin Sagebrush Restoration Fund (GBSR Fund) in 2017 to advance research and development towards improved, cost-effective restoration of sagebrush rangelands.
Since then, several companies with operations in Nevada, including Barrick and Newmont’s Nevada Gold Mines JV, Hecla Mining, Kinross Gold and the United States Bureau of Land Management, have made funding commitments and the GBSR Fund is now the largest sagebrush restoration fund in the United States.
The GBSR Fund is led by Dr. Tamzen Stringham, a rangeland scientist and the Interim Chair of the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Department of Agriculture, Veterinary and Rangeland Sciences. Dr. Stringham has joined forces with colleagues from UNR and other institutions with diverse backgrounds in plant community and landscape ecology, bioengineering, and wildlife biology to engineer efficient, technology-driven solutions.
To date, research supported by the GBSR Fund has produced numerous successes in seed technology, precision rehabilitation and genetics. The tools developed by the GBSR Fund were recently deployed to assist a federal agency with the rehabilitation of federal lands impacted by recent large wildfires in Nevada.
In restoring the vitality of sagebrush rangelands, Dr. Stringham’s research is essential to the preservation of the many desert animal species like the sage grouse. In 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, the GBSR Fund initiated six research studies consisting of 86 treatment and species combinations, across multiple locations in Nevada, Oregon and Utah, in concert with Brigham Young University. Additionally, experiments with Wyoming sagebrush have been initiated at two locations within the Martin fire burn scar, where germination, emergence and establishment of the species will be tested.