Increases in Kentucky bluegrass and smooth bromegrass on northern Great Plains rangelands have the potential to negatively impact ecosystem function, lower plant diversity, and alter seasonal forage distribution, but control strategies are lacking in the region. A project was initiated on a heavily invaded 16-ha grassland that had not been grazed or hayed for at least 20 yr. Five restoration treatments and a control were initiated in 2003 on communities dominated by 1) smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermis Leyss.), 2) Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.), 3) warm-season native grasses, 4) a mix of introduced species, and 5) smooth bromegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. Restoration treatments were 1) late-April burn, 2) late-April burn followed by imazapic at 511.62 mL ai · ha−1, 3) imazapic only at the same rate, 4) mowing, 5) mowing followed by litter removal, and 6) control. We found that treatment responses were affected by target species, community category, and year. Generally, burning followed by the herbicide imazapic reduced Kentucky bluegrass in the species composition, but smooth brome was reduced by mowing followed by raking. Burning followed by imazapic reduced live grass biomass in all community categories except the native the year following treatment, but by the third year of the study live grass biomass was maintained across all treatments. In the third year of the study, responses of Kentucky bluegrass, other invasive species, and native grasses to restoration treatment differed depending on community. The use of burning plus imazapic was promising for control of Kentucky bluegrass but its use by producers may be limited by yield reductions in early years. Our data suggest management strategies should vary depending on whether the goal is to reduce one or several invaders, specific invader identity, and community type in which the invader is growing. We also found that the most effective strategy was an adaptive management approach, one where treatments are chosen in response to changes in community composition and depending on resource conditions.
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Vol. 63 • No. 4