The mission of the Rangeland Condition Monitoring Assessment and Projection (RCMAP) project housed at the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center is to observe, map, and predict changes in rangeland vegetation cover in the western United States. It’s a complex analysis that involves field observations, Landsat images, higher-resolution images, machine learning and metadata.
The information is vital for landowners, land managers, and conservationists, among others—who might not have the time or expertise to interpret how best to apply RCMAP data for their individual needs. Recently, RCMAP has released a new generation of time-series yearly cover predictions for 9 components: shrub, sagebrush, non-sagebrush shrub, herbaceous, annual herbaceous, perennial herbaceous, litter, bare ground, and, new to this version, tree cover.
That data release spurred RCMAP’s January 11, 2023, release of a fact sheet, Rangeland Condition Monitoring Assessment and Projection, 1985–2021, prepared in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management. “This most recent fact sheet is … a more user-friendly version of the metadata for our most recent iteration of RCMAP data spanning 1985–2021,” said Matt Rigge of the U.S. Geological Survey, who leads RCMAP development and production at USGS EROS.
The fact sheet includes parameters that help users understand the scope and validity of the information without being overwhelming. “It is designed to quickly present an overview of the scope of our data, its intended use, and the training data, modeling procedures, post-processing, and accuracy assessment of the RCMAP data,” Rigge said.
RCMAP data are available for download at the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium website and on the MRLC Rangeland Next Generation Viewer (mrlc.gov).