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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: New proposed national resources inventory protocols on nonfederal rangelands

Authors
item Spaeth, Kenneth - NRCS
item Pierson, Frederick
item Herrick, Jeffrey
item Shaver, P - NRCS
item Pyke, D - USGS-BRD
item Pellant, M - BLM
item Thompson, D - NRCS
item Dayton, R - NRCS

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 20, 2002
Publication Date: January 20, 2003
Citation: Spaeth, Kenneth E., Pierson, Fred B., Herrick, Jeff E., Shaver, Patrick L., Pyke, David A., Pellant, Mike, Thompson, Dennis, and Dayton, Bob. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 2003. v.58, no. 1, p. 18A - 21A.

Interpretive Summary: Rangeland NRI activities in NRCS have provided scientifically credible information about status, conditions, and trends on nonfederal rangelands. The inventory process was largely qualitative in 1982, but evolved and included more quantitative field methods in 1992. New pilot studies in 1996, 1997 and 1999 have shown that the rangeland health model, a qualitative field approach to determine biotic integrity, soil surface stability, and hydrologic function are correlated with quantitative measures derived from plant composition/productivity, canopy, and ground cover data. The rangeland health model can be used as an assessment tool to obtain information about rangeland condition. The invasion and increase of certain weedy plants were correlated with decreasing trends in soil surface stability and hydrologic function. Increases of rills, gullies, plant pedestalling, litter movement were identified during the evaluation of the rangeland health protocol.

Technical Abstract: Rangeland NRI activities in NRCS have provided scientifically credible information about status, conditions, and trends on nonfederal rangelands. The inventory process was largely qualitative in 1982, but evolved and included more quantitative field methods in 1992. Interagency efforts since 1995 have developed protocols for rangeland field inventory techniques that have been the quantitative foundation of rangeland science studies. The new proposed NRI protocols are designed to detect long-term (years to decades) changes in the condition on rangeland ecosystems, and monitor short-term impacts which may be of immediate concern. After establishing a sound field based dataset for rangeland PSUs, remote sensing and other quick assessment techniques could be used in interim periods for some indicators. The proposed NRI protocols contain a carefully planned mixture of quantitative and qualitative variables which the interagency group (NRCS, ARS, BLM, USFS, and USGS) have identified as being important ¿state of the art¿ measures of overall rangeland conditions. Field based inventories to assess plant composition, invasive and noxious weed trends, rangeland health, conservation practices applied and needed, identification of disturbances, and measures of canopy and basal plant gaps have been tested by the interagency group. Traditional NRI components such as percent similarity, apparent rangeland trend, and conservation treatment needs have been retained. In addition to the NRI objectives listed at the beginning of the paper, data from the proposed NRI field protocols could be used to further range science and provide more knowledge about interactions among environmental, soil, and plant variables, and management practices.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014