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Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR CONSERVATION OF WESTERN RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: The Natural Resources Conservation Service land resource hierarchy and ecological sites

Author
item Salley, Shawn
item Talbot, Curtis - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item Brown, Joel - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/2/2015
Publication Date: 2/25/2016
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/62042
Citation: Salley, S.W., Talbot, C.J., Brown, J. 2016. The Natural Resources Conservation Service land resource hierarchy and ecological sites. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 80(1):1-9.

Interpretive Summary: In this paper, we outline the main landscape classifications of the U.S. federal agencies and propose that the Land Resource Hierarchy of the NRCS be redesigned base on a conceptual framework of subdivision instead of aggregation. Having a functional resource hierarchy with appropriately nested resource areas will aid in the development of Ecological Site concepts, the land management unit of the NRCS. Furthermore, we propose “Generalized Ecological Sites” a mid-scale resource area to further stratify ecological concepts between Land Resource Units and Ecological Sites.

Technical Abstract: Resource areas of the NRCS have long been important to soil geography. At both regional and landscape scales, resource areas are used to stratify programs and practices based on geographical areas where resource concerns, problems, or treatment needs are similar. However, the inability to quantifiably delineate and classify resource area boundaries hinders communication across the NRCS and federal agencies. Without strong standards delineating geography and concepts, resource areas become less scientifically defensible and inconsistent in addressing similar resource management issues. Furthermore, with continued development of Ecological Site concepts, there is a renewed interest in understanding the relationships between resource areas and Ecological Sites. In this paper we: (i) review the concepts and history of landscape classifications leading to the predominant regional classification systems used by federal agencies in the United States, (ii) propose strengthening the NRCS’s Land Resource Hierarchy by building resource area concepts on nesting principles of subdivision instead of aggregation, and (iii) place ecological site concepts as a nested resource area within the Land Resource Hierarchy.