Sagebrush, home to more than 350 species of conservation concern, is being threatened and degraded by invasive annual grasses, wildfire, expanding conifers, climate change and human development. Photo: Nick Sulzer // Buckrail

JACKSON, Wyo. — Restoration of the sagebrush steppe ecosystem in the Jackson Hole area is the topic of the latest free public discussion of the University of Wyoming’s Harlow Summer Seminars program Thursday, July 15, in Jackson.

Daniel Laughlin, a UW plant ecology associate professor, will discuss “Restoring sagebrush in Jackson Hole during the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration” at 6:30 p.m. at UW’s Teton County Extension office, located at 255 W. Deloney Ave.

The annual Harlow Summer Seminars program returns after a one-year hiatus because of COVID-19 concerns. The summer program is normally held at the UW-National Park Service (UW-NPS) Research Station, located at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park, but the facility is currently closed for renovations.

Laughlin’s UW laboratory group is currently working with Grand Teton National Park officials to understand and enhance sagebrush restoration in the park. He has studied ecological restoration for more than two decades in prairies, wetlands, sagebrush, ponderosa pine forests and temperate rain forests.

Laughlin says the United Nations has declared 2021-2030 as the “Decade on Ecosystem Restoration” because of its vital role in combating climate change. In his talk, he will discuss the development of restoration ecology and the existential crisis facing restoration ecologists at a time of rapid environmental change.

“Grand Teton National Park has invested heavily in the restoration of the sagebrush steppe ecosystem near Mormon Row,” Laughlin said. He will discuss the successes and failures of this long-term project with a look to new experiments to enhance biodiversity and wildlife habitat around Blacktail Butte.

Formerly called the AMK Ranch Talk Series, the Harlow Summer Seminars program is named after retired UW Department of Zoology and Physiology Professor Hank Harlow, who helped make the UW-NPS Research Station a significant facility for research and community outreach. Harlow began the popular weekly public seminars during the summer months.

For more information about the Harlow Summer Seminars, email Anne Guzzo, UW-NPS Research Station associate director, at guzzo@uwyo.edu.

Buckrail @ Caroline

Caroline Chapman is a Community News Reporter. She enjoys reading non-fiction, skiing, hiking, and playing piano in her downtime. Her favorite aspect about living in Jackson is the genuine admiration that Wyomingites share for the land and the life that it sustains.