交作业了：Cheat Grass Vs. Sagebrush
问题在于，由于人的到来，每有山火便迅速扑灭，结果是枯枝败叶越积越多，按照科学家们的说法，是fuel load越来越大。到有一天发生一次剧烈的山火时，因为易燃物质太多导致火势太强，人不一定能扑灭这样的山火。这种catastrophobic fire（灾难性或毁灭性大火）的最大的弊端就是将把sagebrush的根和种子等全部烤死，结果来年它们将失去再生的能力，其种群将逐渐萎缩。
Kim Rollins got $1 million for sagebrush project
In her working life as a resource economist, Dr. Kim Rollins seldom saw a project as innovative as this multi-disciplinary experiment to evaluate fire and fire surrogate treatments in the sagebrush biomes of the Great Basin.
The usual practice of such kind of research is that biologists do the research first. Economists are added in at the end as an afterthought.
“They would say, ‘oh, here’s all the result, now find the cheapest way to do it,’” Rollins said.
In this five-year project that has recently been approved by the Joint Fire Science Program, the economists were incorporated right at the beginning as an integral part of the research design, she said.
She will get $1 million of funding for her part of research as well as that of soil scientist Dr. Dale Johnson, who is also in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources in UNR.
Involving about $13 million of funding as a whole, this project will be closely collaborated among ecologists, wildlife biologists, soil scientists, hydrologists, sociologists as well as economists.
The researchers come from various institutions around the Great Basin, including University of Nevada-Reno, Oregon State University, Utah State University, Brigham Young University, University of Idaho, and a number of branches under the US Geological Survey (USGS) or US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (USFS).
The goal is to provide federal land managers with the most effective treatments to save the endangered sagebrush communities from the invasion of exotic plants and catastrophic fires the plants may cause, according to the project proposal.
Leading the economist team consisting of researchers from University of Utah and Oregon State University, and collaborators including her colleagues in UNR, Rollins said the economists’ role is to prioritize the options as for what treatments to apply, where to apply, and when.
“Of course we would like to protect everything,” said Rollins. “But the reality is we have only so many resources, so many land managers, and only annual budget of certain sizes.”
Given these constraints, the economists have to consider the values of different lands. Some of them have areas that are closed to human population, some are more valuable for forage of live stock, some are extremely valuable for protection of endangered spices and habitats, other ones may be not as important.
They will build economic models based on information provided by the biologists and other scientists, Rollins said.
The sagebrush biome occupies 100 million acres in the West and is the largest biome in North America. Home to more than 300 wildlife species, the biome is the primary forage base for the western livestock industry. While serving as an important recreation area, the biome also provides precious water in a semi-arid region that has one of the fastest growing human populations in North America.
Unfortunately, the sagebrush biome is considered to be one of the most endangered in the United States as a result of the invasion of exotic weeds such as cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and native pine trees like pinyon pine and juniper (Juniperus sp.). Scientists estimate that perhaps a third of the biome has been lost, and as much as half in the Great Basin region.
The invaders builds up highly flammable fuel amid the native sagebrush, resulting in increased frequency and intensity of wildfires that threatens not only the sagebrush communities, but also properties and perhaps human lives, the proposal reported.