Lands not meeting Standards

When range conservation specialists monitor or assess conditions, photos are one of the tools used to document those conditions.  The photos below show examples of conditions that do not meet or show observable, measurable progress toward meeting Idaho Rangeland Health Standards

The Standards are management and policy goals for ensuring healthy, functioning rangelands under the BLM's multiple use mission.  They provide clear direction for public land users and for everyone accountable for their condition, and are specifically designed to improve the condition of upland vegetation and conditions in riparian areas. 

Rangelands on which health standards are being achieved are the matrix for proper nutrient and hydrologic cycling, and proper energy flow, as well as protecting cultural resources and sustaining forage productivity and habitat for wildlife.  

CLICK on any image to view at full size  




 upland conditions not meeting Idaho Rangeland Health Standards (Birch Creek)

Watersheds help maintain ecological function by allowing proper filtration, retention, and release of water as appropriate to the soil type, vegetation, climate and landform of the area.

At left | High use of the trail has removed vegetation and exposed the soil to wind and water. Reduced vegetation cover diminishes the soil's ability to hold water and nutrients. Ruts and gulleys indicate water erosion: during rain and snowmelt, water and nutrients are not being absorbed. Instead, soil is washing away.  In dry periods winds blow soil away. 

red graphic dotClick here to view an upland area meeting Standard 1





lentic riparian area (springs) not meeting Idaho Rangeland Health Standards


Riparian function affects bank/shoreline stability and water quality. 

At left | A lentic riparian area (standing water), a spring. Degraded vegetation along the spring's banks allows erosion. Livestock trampling has further degraded banks, which together with feces deposited in the water, degrades the spring as a water source (see also, Standard 7, below).

green graphic dotView a video that details riparian assessment & monitoring 
     courtesy ID Rangeland Resource Commission | TRANSCRIPT


lotic riparian area not meeting Idaho Rangeland Health Standards


Shallow-rooted vegetation along banks/shoreline does not adequately stabilize the channel.

At left | A lotic riparian area (flowing water), a stream. The stream's banks lack vegetation to hold soil in place, especially during flooding and springtime high water, resulting in erosion and widening of the channel (see also, Standard 3, below).

green graphic dotClick here to view this site with restored riparian function 


 stream channel not meeting Idaho Rangeland Health Standards

Stream channels and floodplains dissipate the energy of high water flows and transport sediment. Healthy stream/floodplain areas allow water to move as they filter sediment and store water. 

At left, this streambank has been flattened by livestock, which altered channel characteristics and riparian vegetation. This photo was taken after the 1994 grazing season on an allotment in the Burley Field Office.

green graphic dotClick here to view the same site meeting Standard 3, after riparian 
     management practices were implemented  





upland area not meeting rangeland health standards

Top | In an upland area native bunch grasses have been reduced and biotic soil crusts are reduced or gone, increasing potential for erosion and encroachment by invasive or noxious weeds. 

Below-left | over-grazed basin wildrye on a dry stream bank 
Below-right | intensely browsed wild rose on the shore of a dry pond

green graphic dotClick here to view a site meeting Standard 4

wildrye grass in a lotic riparian area not meeting Idaho Rangeland Health Standardswoody plants in a riparian area not meeting Idaho Rangeland Health Standards


an upland seeding not meeting Idaho Rangeland Health Standards

Rangelands that have been seeded - to stabilize an area after wildfire, for example - may function to maintain ecological diversity, productivity and habitat for native species when meeting this Standard.

At left | Weeds have invaded the seeding. Very few native plants are present. 

Click here to view a seeded area meeting Standard 5


an upland area not meeting Idaho Rangeland Health Standards

Where exotic (non-native) plant communities grow, Rangeland Health Standards require that soils at the site be stable and that native and seeded plants are being maintained until perennial vegetation can be rehabilitated.

At left | Native perennial vegetation is diminishing over time, with exotic species becoming more prevalent.  Remnant native species are not vigorous enough to allow them to reproduce and recruit when environmental conditions allow. 

green graphic dotClick here to view an ecologically functioning site


a reach of the North Fork Owyhee River

Surface and ground water on public lands in Idaho must comply with the physical, chemical and biologic parameters described in the Idaho Water Quality Standards.

Water samples undergo periodic laboratory analysis to ensure that none of the parameters are being exceeded.  At left | too much sediment degrades the water as habitat for fish, plants and wildlife. 

green graphic dotClick here to view a stream attaining water quality standards


sage-brush providing inadequate food and cover for dependent species

Rangelands serve as habitat for numerous animal and plant species, some of which have special status, such as threatened or endangered (T&E) under the Endangered Species Act.

Conservation of wildlife habitat naturally accompanies healthy ecological conditions in upland and riparian areas, but having a Standard specific to sensitive wildlife acknowledges the additional statutory, regulatory and policy responsibilities associated with managing plants and animals that have T&E status.

At left | Most native understory vegetation — a food source for sage-grouse and other animal species like the pygmy rabbit that utilize the area as habitat — has been removed.  The sagebrush pictured here does not provide hiding and nesting cover.

Nor does it meet Standard 4, which looks for healthy, productive and diverse native plant communities. 

green graphic dotClick here to view sage-steppe in condition that meets Standards 4 & 8