Soil Resources

Restoration and Recovery

Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. The Web Soil Survey, Ecological Site Descriptions (ESDs), and State and Transition Models (STMs) are tools that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) uses to determine if restoration/recovery is necessary, economically feasible, and what activities to conduct.

Soil surveys (Web Soil Survey) provides the essential, detailed information on soil limitations and properties necessary for restoration planning and implementation.

ESDs provide the ecological background to understand community pathways and develop restoration strategies to meet management objectives. They focus on the plant community and provide the general soils information but not the specific information required to plan most restoration treatments – this is provided by the soil survey information.

STMs help prioritize restoration according to expected success, by understanding how states will change, the plant communities that can be supported by the site, and by providing useful information for selecting plants for re-vegetation.

State and Transition Models (STMs) can help determine the probability of restoration or recovery.

State and Transition Models and Identifying Probability of Recovery
Probability of Recovery
Probability of Recovery
Probability of 
None/slight departure from reference stateModerate departure from reference stateChanged from reference state
Presence of all plant functional groupsSome plant groups missing with some invasive speciesDominance of invasive plants and impairment to soil and hydrology
Maintaining an existing reference state where plant groups are intactSoils and precipitation are favorableNo action or only passive restoration opportunities exist or active restoration discouraged because of limited chances of success

Steps in Process to Conduct a Restoration Project
  1. Prioritize the landscape and ecological sites and identify the kinds of soils, erosion potentials, native vegetation, etc.
  2. Determine the current state of the site and whether it is within the reference state of the STM.
  3. Select an action based on the presence or absence of proper plant components and whether invasive species are present or absent or are adversely affecting the desired plant groups.
  4. Design adequate protection for the site and monitor after any restoration treatments for effectiveness.


Soils and Ecosystem Stability
·Soil Indicators and Function
·Soil Quality Assessment
·Soil Management
·Soil Issues
·BLM Authorized Management Activities Affecting Soil
·Organic Matter

Using the Web Soil Survey
Soils and Vegetation
·Ecological Sites and Ecological Site Descriptions (ESDs)
·State and Transition Model (STM)
·STM Example
·STM Application and Use
Restoration and Recovery