Grand Teton National Park staff have initiated habitat restoration projects in the southern part of the park as part of a multi-phase restoration effort to replace approximately 4,500 acres of former non-native grass fields with native sagebrush steppe habitat.
A healthy sagebrush ecosystem in Grand Teton is vital for the diversity and abundance of native plants and wildlife species like elk, bison, moose, pronghorn, and sage grouse that rely on them. Beginning in the late 1800s, Jackson Hole homesteaders converted large swaths of local sagebrush steppe habitat to hayfields for agricultural use.
The smooth brome they planted provided their livestock with nutrition year-round as the hay could be stored for winter use. Despite the homesteaders having moved away from Antelope Flats and other areas of Grand Teton, the converted pastures have persisted, decreasing the value to wildlife in the heart of year-round habitation and migration corridors.
To date, 1,320 acres are in various stages of restoration, with areas furthest along containing diverse, well-established native plants that provide a source of food and shelter for a wide range of pollinators and wildlife. Wildflowers, sagebrush, and other native plants have also returned to these locations.