Download the compiled Great Basin Factsheet Series 2016: Information and tools to conserve and restore Great Basin ecosystems.

For hard copies of the compilation, contact Génie MontBlanc, Great Basin Fire Science Exchange Coordinator, at (775) 784-1107 or

Seeding Big Sagebrush Successfully on Intermountain Rangelands

November 14, 2015

Great Basin Fact Sheet No. 10: Seeding Big Sagebrush Successfully on Intermountain Rangelands

By: Susan E. Meyer and Thomas W. Warren


Recently, devastating wildfires–in part a consequence of annual grass invasion–have impacted a sizable portion of the sagebrush steppe ecosystem, especially in the Great Basin. This fact sheet discusses some of the many factors that can increase the likelihood of successfully re-establishing sagebrush post-wildfire using direct seeding. For instance, poor weather for sagebrush seed establishment, seed subspecies selection, or the timing of seeding can render even the most artful efforts ineffective. In addition, climate change can add a new and challenging dimension to the problem of sagebrush restoration. Read on to learn how to maximize seeding success in burned areas.

In Brief:

  • Big sagebrush can be seeded successfully on climatically suitable sites in the Great Basin using the proper seeding guidelines.
  • These guidelines include using sufficient quantities of high-quality seed of the correct subspecies and ecotype, seeding in late fall to mid-winter, making sure that the seed is not planted too deeply, and seeding into an environment with reduced competition.
  • Reducing the seeding rates of highly competitive grasses will increase the chances of sagebrush establishment.
  • Aerial seeding the first winter after a burn following drilling of larger-seeded species at reasonable rates is one approach for large-scale, post-fire restoration projects that has been successful.

Click here or on the image below to download a PDF of the full fact sheet.

Seeding big sagebrush

The Sage Grouse Initiative is a partnership-based, science-driven effort that uses voluntary incentives to proactively conserve America’s western rangelands, wildlife, and rural way of life. This initiative is part of Working Lands For Wildlife, which is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.