Field data collected over a 20-year period at 8 sites in northwestern New Mexico was used to determine Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis Beetle and Young) recovery following control with tebuthiuron (N-[5-(1,1-
dimethylethyl)-1,3,4-thiadiazol-2-yl]-N-N9-dimethylurea) and to relate understory perennial grass yield to overstory canopy cover. Tebuthiuron killed between 80% and 95% of mature Wyoming big sagebrush plants within 18 months of chemical
treatment, but through recruitment plant numbers equaled or exceeded pretreatment density (plants/m2) at 3 of the 8 sites and were increasing at other locations near the study’s end. Wyoming big sagebrush canopy cover averaged ,2% the first 10 years
after herbicide treatment but had returned to near pretreatment levels (.15%) at 2 sites, to between 5% and 10% at 4 sites, and to less than 3% at the remaining 2 sites. Treatment life was projected to exceed 35 years for 6 of the 8 study sites. Higher rates of tebuthiuron generally extended treatment life. Annual average perennial grass yield increased on treated areas relative to untreated rangeland at all study sites over the 20-year study period. Grass yield was highly variable between years, with
pronounced increases when weather and environmental conditions were favorable for grass growth. A nonlinear S-shaped curve best described overstory–understory relationships and also defined the time path of Wyoming big sagebrush recovery, which
differed by study site.