Rangeland Ecology & Management

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Aerial Application

Rangeland Vegetation Management & Restoration

Brush Management

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Expansion of brush into grasslands can impact key ecosystem services such as forage production, primary productivity and carbon sequestration as well as impact streamflow and groundwater recharge.

Photo by: Mark Heitlinger
  • Revised by Austin Rutherford, University of Arizona

    Brush (or shrub) encroachment is a global phenomenon whereby native and nonnative woody species displace grass species (Archer et al., 2017). The shift in a grass- to woody-dominated ecosystem results from complex interactions between many environmental drivers, physical controls, and historical land uses. A widespread conversion of grasslands to shrublands can significantly impact a variety of ecosystem processes and services such as soil erosion, water infiltration, and forage production (Archer & Predick, 2014). Range managers and land owners can employ several “brush management” treatments for reducing shrub/tree cover and help to restore encroached grasslands (Hamilton et al., 2004; Scifres et al., 1985).  

    Brush management treatments are broken into four broad categories: biological, chemical, cultural, and mechanical. The following web resources details each method individually and for application in combination to maximize their effectiveness (e.g., Integrated Brush Management Systems) to meet management goals:




    In 2018, a series of workshops were hosted in southeastern Arizona to discuss historical and current trends of brush cover; brush management methods and stories of application; and working collaboratively to apply their collective knowledge to meet brush cover goals. Details on this workshop series including agendas, presentations, and videos can be found here:




    For aid in planning and monitoring for brush management in Southeastern Arizona, see the new ShrubRisk Tool 


  • Emeritus Professor Richard F. Miller from Oregon State University provides historical context for the changes in woodlands over the past two centuries as part of a "Impacts of Woodland Expansion" Symposium during the Society for Range Management Annual Conference, St. George, UT, Jan. 31, 2017. Courtesy of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service-led Sage Grouse Initiative and the Bureau of Land Management.

  • The USDA NRCS provides a brief overview of Brush Management, and highlights how Dan Doornbos in Alder, MT is using this practice to improve his rangeland by increasing his forage and improving wildlife habitat.


  • Evaluate a land's susceptibility to shrub encroachment in southeastern Arizona. This tool was developed by the University of Arizona School of Na…
  • Keeping an Eye on Drought: Satellite-based Drought Monitoring and Assessment
  • Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) Explorer Tool was created to explore SPI values at specific locations by using a gridded climate dataset (PRISM…
  • MyRAINge Log is designed with rangeland management in mind, bringing together cutting edge web technology, climate data, and visualization tools focus…
  • The MRLC (Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics) Rangeland Viewer provides a dynamic platform for multi-temporal data visualization of RCMAP time-seri…
  • The Rangeland Analysis Platform (RAP) is an interactive web application designed to assist in managing and monitoring America’s valuable rangelands. T…
  • Grassland productivity forecast for the Great Plains and Southwest.
  • Weekly fuel and rangeland production forecasting system.
  • PESTMAN provides management support for brush and weed control for species common to TX and NM. Developed by the Texas A&M AgriLife and New Mexico…
  • This tool is designed to assist land managers with the rangeland restoration and/or rehabilitation planning process. The tool assembles information ab…
  • The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit is a website designed to help people find and use tools, information, and subject matter expertise to build climat…

Featured Resources From the Database

Further Reading




  • Hamilton, W. T., McGinty, A., Ueckert, D. N., Hanselka, C. W., & Lee, M. R. (2004). Brush management: past, present, future (Vol. 7). Texas A&M University Press.

  • Scifres, C. J. (1980). Brush management: principles and practices for Texas and the Southwest. Texas A & M University Press..