Protocol for Describing Indicators of Rangeland Health

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Assessing rangeland health is useful from a land management perspective in providing a baseline or early indicator of degradation and for prioritizing habitat across a landscape for restoration.

Over fifteen years ago, USGS and others authored an assessment protocol “Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health (IIRH)” that has been used in over 30,000 locations across the U.S. However, in portions of the U.S. and in other countries, the use of this protocol has been limited by the requirement for historic reference data on various indicators such as soil and climate. USGS, USDA, BLM, and Oregon State University researchers have authored a new publication that addresses specific management and policy situations when historic data are and are not required, approaches for defining historic references, and a new protocol for collecting and organizing data for historic references. This new publication will broaden applicability of IIRH both within the U.S. and internationally.


Herrick, J.E., Shaver, P.L., Pyke, D.A., Pellant, M., Toledo, D.P., Lepak, N., 2019, A strategy for defining the reference for land health and degradation assessments: Ecological Indicators, v. 97, p. 225-230,

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Date published: November 28, 2017
Status: Active

Restoration and Ecology of Arid Lands Team (FRESC)

The focus of our research is on the restoration and monitoring of the plants and soils of the Intermountain West. Our lab is part of the Snake River Field Station, but is located in Corvallis, Oregon. Research topics include fire rehabilitation effects and effectiveness, indicators of rangeland health, invasive species ecology, and restoration of shrub steppe ecosystems.

Contacts: David A Pyke