Plant and Soil

, Volume 373, Issue 1–2, pp 843–856 | Cite as

Innovative snow harvesting technology increases vegetation establishment success in native sagebrush ecosystem restoration

  • Erica David
Regular Article



In cold-arid systems, moisture availability is often a limiting factor to vegetation establishment and growth. Consequentially, manipulating soil moisture dynamics may help to improve restoration practice. Application of snow fencing, for microclimate manipulation in cold-arid regions, improves native species establishment and restoration success following disturbance by improving soil moisture retention.


Research was conducted in the Jonah Natural Gas Field, an area subjected to intensive gas development, in southwest Wyoming, USA, to assess roles of snow fencing in altering snowpack characteristics, and soil moisture, for improving re-establishment of native vegetation.


Application of a customized snow fence design (the Hollow Frame Fence System, HFFS) significantly increased vegetation establishment of the framework taxon, Artemisia tridentata Nutt. spp. wyomingensis Beetle & Young, and other native sagebrush-steppe species. The HFFS exhibited significantly fewer invasive species than control blocks; establishment of A. tridentata was significantly higher within the HFFS, as compared to both control blocks, and commercial fence types. Significant increases in spring soil moisture are likely drivers of increased restoration success with use of HFFS.


The Hollow Frame Fence System provides increased water harvesting capacity necessary to improve habitat restoration in cold-arid environments subjected to disturbance.


Water harvesting Cold-arid Artemisia tridentata Jonah natural gas field Hollow Frame Fence System Fracking 



Hollow Frame Fence System



Thank you to Matt and Liz David, for the incredible support and guidance, which have continually fueled my research pursuits; to EnCana Oil and Gas, Shell Inc, and the Bureau of Land Management, for access to research sites, and funding for equipment. To Myles Menz, Ben Miller, Jason Stevens, and Kingsley Dixon for comments on early drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kings Park and Botanic GardenWest PerthAustralia
  2. 2.David Scientific LLCPinedaleUSA

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