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.
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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.
Click here to view an upland area meeting Standard 1
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).
View a video that details riparian assessment & monitoring
courtesy ID Rangeland Resource Commission | TRANSCRIPT
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).
Click here to view this site with restored riparian function
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.
Click here to view the same site meeting Standard 3, after riparian
management practices were implemented
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
Click here to view a site meeting Standard 4
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
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.
Click here to view an ecologically functioning site
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.
Click here to view sage-steppe in condition that meets Standards 4 & 8