How sagebrush steppe should look

This area hasn’t been grazed by cattle for many years-

I took this photo in late May on Pocatello’s West Bench at the base of the Bannock Mountain Range. Because it is a mixture of city land and Forest Service and no maintained fences, it hasn’t been grazed by cattle or sheep for many years.

Too many people don’t know what healthy sagebrush steppe looks like. This is an example.*

Late May on Pocatello’s West Bench. Sagebrush steppe.

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* The West Bench is hardly pristine, however. It was overgrazed in the late 19th and early 20th century so badly that the hillside was contoured by FDR’s CCC. See photo of the coutours today.

In 1987 much of the Bench burned. The was followed by BLM and Forest Service efforts to “restore” the area. This included planting yellow clover, which now covers large areas and the “more fire resistant” Siberian Wheatgrass (an exotic). For years vehicles have also gradually spread cheat grass and bulbous blue grass into local infestations. You can see some cheatgrass beginning to ripen in the second photograph.