Alexandra (Ali) Urza to present at August meeting.

At the August meeting Alexandra (Ali) Urza, a plant ecologist and PhD candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno, will be addressing the expansion and increasing dominance of highly flammable invasive cheatgrass in the Great Basin.

Expansion and increasing dominance of the highly flammable invasive annual grass, cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), is transforming native ecosystems in the Great Basin, resulting in increased fire risk and altering ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling and soil water flux and storage.  Where pinyon-juniper woodlands and sagebrush shrublands overlap, prescribed fire and other tree-reduction measures are often used to maintain native shrub- and grass-dominated habitats and conserve sagebrush obligate animal species.  Post-fire management objectives typically prioritize the recovery of perennial herbaceous species that can increase resistance to invasion by fire-adapted exotics such as cheatgrass.  However, fires can also facilitate cheatgrass invasion, and a major management challenge is predicting which parts of the landscape are most susceptible to invasion (and how to manage landscapes that are susceptible).  She will share the lessons they have learned from a long-term study of understory vegetation responses to prescribed burning in pinyon-juniper woodlands.

Alexandra (Ali) Urza is a plant ecologist who studies the role of disturbance and climate in shaping ecosystems of the western US.  She has a B.A. in Policy Studies from Reed College, an M.S. in Ecology from Colorado State University, and is currently in the last stages of a completing a PhD at the University of Nevada-Reno.  Ali previously worked for the BLM as a Natural Resource Specialist and a wildland firefighter.  Her science addresses basic questions of the drivers of plant species distributions while supporting the sustainable management of natural resources.

The Alpine Biomass Collaborative (ABC) was not successful in its application for one of Alpine County’s Small Grant Program grants.  A working group is being formed to work to improve relations with the County.

The August meeting is scheduled for Tuesday August 7th at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.

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