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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: What Is the Standard for Rangeland Health Assessments?

Authors
item Pyke, D - USGS
item Herrick, Jeffrey
item Shaver, P - USDA-NRCS
item Pellant, M - BLM

Submitted to: International Rangeland Congress
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 15, 2003
Publication Date: July 20, 2003
Citation: PYKE, D.A., HERRICK, J.E., SHAVER, P.L., PELLANT, M. WHAT IS THE STANDARD FOR RANGELAND HEALTH ASSESSMENTS? PROCEEDINGS OF THE VIITH INTERNATIONAL RANGELANDS CONGRESS. 2003. P. 764-766.

Interpretive Summary: Interpretive summary not required.

Technical Abstract: Rangeland health encompasses the maintenance of complex ecological processes on rangelands over time. In an attempt to provide a rapid, moment-in-time assessment of rangeland health, we developed the Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health approach that uses 17 observable indicators to assess 3 attributes of rangeland health, soil and site stability, hydrologic functioning and biotic integrity. In the initial published version, the standard for comparison for assessing an evaluation area was the Ecological Site Description, the description of physical and biotic characteristics of lands that produce distinctive types and amounts of vegetation and that respond similarly to management. Multiple reference areas provided visual representations of the ecological site and were used to supplement ecological site descriptions or as the standard when ecological site descriptions were not available. We developed an ecological reference worksheet to provide a consistent standard for assessing rangeland health regardless of the availability of a formal ecological site description or a series of reference areas. This worksheet should be completed by a group of experts familiar with the range of variation in soil, hydrologic and biologic indicators. When possible, data similar to that found in ecological site descriptions should be used to generate the range of variation expected for a functioning site. Once the standard range of variation is described, the group should describe the four categories of expected deviations from this standard using generic descriptions of these categories as a guide. We believe this change will allow this technique to be used by experts throughout the world.

Last Modified: 12/28/2014
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