Rangeland Program Glossary


Adjudication: The apportionment of grazing use on public rangelands among eligible applicants.
Allotment: An area of land where one or more individuals graze their livestock. An allotment generally consists of federal rangelands, but may include intermingled parcels of private, state or federal lands. BLM and the Forest Service stipulate the number of livestock and season of use for each allotment.
Allotment Management Plan (AMP): A livestock grazing management plan dealing with a specific unit of rangeland and based on multiple use resource management objectives. The AMP considers livestock grazing in relation to other uses of rangelands and in relation to renewable resources such as watersheds, vegetation and wildlife. An AMP establishes the seasons of use, the number of livestock to be permitted on rangelands, and the rangeland improvements needed.
Animal Unit: A unit of measure for rangeland livestock equivalent to one mature cow or five sheep or fie goats, all over 6 months of age. An animal unit is based on average daily forage consumption of 26 pounds of dry matter per day.

Animal Unit Month (AUM): The amount of forage needed to sustain one cow, five sheep, or five goats for a month. A full AUMs fee is charged for each month of grazing by adult animals if the grazing animal (1) is weaned, (2) is 6 months old or older when entering public land, or (3) will become 12 months old during the period of use. For fee purposes, an AUM is the amount of forage used by five weaned or adult sheep or goats or one cow, bull, steer, heifer, horse, or mule. The term AUM is commonly used in three ways: (1) stocking rate as in X acres per AUM, (b) forage allocation as in X AUMs in allotment A, and (3) utilization as in X AUMs consumed from Unit B.

Annual Plant: A plant that completes its life cycle and dies in 1 year or less.
Authorized Officer: Any person authorized by the Secretary of the Interior to administer BLMs rangeland management program.


Base Property: Land or water sources on a ranch that are owned by, or under long-term control, of the operator.
Base Property Leases: On BLM-administered lands, the long-term lease of base property.


Carrying Capacity: The maximum stocking rate possible without damaging vegetation or related resources. Carrying capacity may vary from year to year on the same area due to fluctuating forage production.
Class of Livestock: Description of age or sex group for a particular kind of livestock, such as cow, bull, calf, yearling, ewe, ram or lamb.
Climax Vegetation: The final vegetation community and highest ecological development of a plant community that emerges after a series of successive vegetational stages. The climax community perpetuates itself indefinitely unless disturbed by outside forces.
Cow-Calf Operation: A livestock operation in which a base breeding herd of mother cows and bulls is maintained. The cows produce a calf crop each year, and the operation keeps some heifer calves from each calf crop for breeding herd replacements. The rest of the calf crop is sold between the ages of 6 and 12 months along with old or nonproductive cows and bulls.


Desired Plant Community (DPC): The plant community that has been determined through a land use or management plan to best meet the plan objectives for a site. A real, documented plant community that embodies the resource attributes needed for the present or potential use of an area, the desired plant community is consistent with the sites capability to produce the required resource attributes through natural succession, management intervention, or a combination of both.


Ecological Site: A distinctive kind of rangeland that differs from other kinds of rangeland in its ability to produce a characteristic natural plant community.
Ecological Status: The present state of vegetation and soil protection of an ecological site in relation to the potential natural community for the site. Vegetation status is the expression of the relative degree to which the kind, proportions, and amounts of plants in a community resemble that of the potential natural community.
Ecological Succession: The gradual evolution of an ecosystem to a stable state. If, through the ability of its populations and elements, an ecosystem can absorb changes, it tends to persist and become stable through time.
Environmental Assessment (EA): A concise public document for which a federal agency is responsible. An EA serves to briefly provide enough evidence and analysis for determining whether to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) or a finding of no significant impact. An agency completes an EA to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when no EIS is needed. If an EIS is needed, the EA helps to facilitate preparation of the EIS.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): An analytical document that portrays potential impacts on the human environment of a particular course of action and its possible alternatives. Required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), an EIS is prepared for use by decision makers to weight the environmental consequences of a potential decision.
Ephemeral Range: A rangeland that does not consistently produce enough forage to sustain a livestock operation but may briefly produce unusual volumes of forage to accommodate livestock grazing. 


Fee Year: The 12-month period covered by a fee charged by BLM, March 1 through the last day in February of the following year.
Forage: All browse and herbaceous growth available and acceptable to grazing animals or that may be harvested for feeding purposes. Forage includes pasture, rangelands, and crop aftermath. Feed includes forage, hay and grains.
Forb: A herbaceous plant that is not a grass, sedge, or rush.


Grazing: Consumption of native forage from rangelands or pastures by livestock or wildlife.
Grazing Allotment: An area where one or more livestock operators graze their livestock. An allotment generally consists of federal land but may include parcels of private or state-owned land.
Grazing District: An administrative unit of BLM-managed rangelands established by the Secretary of the Interior under the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. Grazing units are not the same as BLM administrative districts.
Grazing Fee: A charge, usually on a monthly basis, for grazing a specific kind of livestock.
Grazing Fee Year: For fee collection purposes, from March 1 through the last day in February of the following year.
Grazing Permit/License/Lease: Official written permission to graze a specific number, kind, and class of livestock for a specified time period on a defined rangeland.
Grazing Season: On federal lands, an established period for which grazing permits are issued.
Grazing System: A systematic sequence of grazing use and nonuse of an allotment to meet multiple use goals by improving the quality and amount of vegetation.


Interdisciplinary Team: A team of varied land use and resource specialists formed to provide a coordinated, integrated information base for overall land use planning and management.
Interested public: An individual, group or organization that has submitted a written request to the authorized officer to be provided an opportunity to be involved in the decision making process for the management of livestock grazing on specific grazing allotments or has submitted written comments to the authorized officer regarding the management of livestock grazing on a specific allotment.
Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA): A Board within the Department of the Interior, Office of Hearings and Appeals that acts for the Secretary of the Interior in responding to appeals of decisions on the use and disposition of public lands and resources. Because IBLA acts for and on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior, its decisions usually represent the Department’s final decision but are subject to the Secretary’s review and to appeal in federal court.


Key Species: (1) Species that, because of their importance, must be considered in a management program; or (2) forage species whose use shows the degree of use of associated species.
Kind of Livestock: An animal species or species group such as sheep, cattle, goats, horses, or burros.


Land Use Plan: Any document developed to define the kinds of use, goals and objectives, management practices and activities that will be allowed to occur on an individual or group of parcels of land.


Multiple Use: A combination of balanced and diverse resource uses that considers long-term needs for renewable and nonrenewable resources, including recreation, rangeland, timber, minerals, watershed, and wildlife, along with scenic, scientific, and cultural values.


Permittee: One who holds a permit to graze livestock on state, federal, or certain privately-owned lands.
Perennial Plant: A plant that has a life cycle of 3 or more years.
Potential Natural Communities (PNC): The stable biotic community that would become established on an ecological site if all successional stages were completed without human interference under present environmental conditions.
Public Lands: As defined in Public Law 94-79, public lands are any land and interest in land outside of Alaska owned by the United States and administered by the Secretary of the Interior through BLM. In common usage, public lands may refer to all federal land no matter what agency has responsibility for its management.


Range or Rangeland: Rangelands, forests and woodlands, and riparian zones that support an understory or periodic cover of herbaceous or shrubby vegetation amenable to rangeland management principles or practices.
Range Betterment Fund: The money collected from livestock grazing on the federal lands and used for rangeland improvements. BLM actually calls theses funds Range Improvement Funds and uses them solely for labor, materials, and final survey and design of projects. The Forest Service calls these funds Range Betterment Funds and uses them for planning and building rangeland improvements.
Range Condition: The current productivity of a rangeland relative to what it could naturally produce.
Range Improvement Permit: For BLM an authorization to build a rangeland improvement on public land, synonymous with the Forest Service term permit modification.
Rangeland: A kind of land on which the native vegetation, climax or natural potential consists predominately of grasses, grasslike plants, forbs, or shrubs. Rangeland includes lands revegetated naturally or artificially to provide a plant cover that is managed like native vegetation. Rangelands may consist of natural grasslands, savannas, shrub lands, most deserts, tundra, alpine communities, coastal marshes, and wet meadows.
Riparian: Areas of wetland transition between permanently saturated wetlands and upland areas. These areas exhibit vegetation or physical characteristics reflective of permanent surface or subsurface water influence.


Season of Use: The time during which livestock grazing is permitted on a given range area, as specified in the grazing permit.
Section 3 Lands: Public lands within a grazing district administered by BLM under Section 3 of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. BLM authorized livestock grazing on these lands by issuing permits to permittees. Section 3 lands make up the vast majority of BLM-administered lands.
Section 15 Lands: Public lands outside a grazing district administered by BLM under Section 15 of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. BLM authorizes livestock grazing on these lands by issuing licenses to licensees. Section 15 lands tend to be more isolated parcels that are harder to manage than Section 3 lands.
Seral: Pertaining to the successional stages of biotic communities.
Seral (Successional) Community: One of a series of biotic communities that follow one another in time on any given ecological site.
Stocking Rate: The number of specific kinds and classes of animals grazing or using a unit of land for specified time. Not the same as carrying capacity.
Sustained Use (Production): The continuation of livestock grazing at a uniform level while maintaining a healthy desired plant community.
Sustained Yield: The continuation of a healthy desired plant community.


Term Permit: A document authorizing grazing for a stated number of years (usually 10) as contrasted to an annual or temporary permit.


Water-Based Allotment: An allotment whose permit is based on the ownership of livestock water sources instead of land, with grazing use dependent upon each source.
Wetlands: Permanently wet or intermittently water-covered areas, such as swamps, marshes, bogs, potholes, swales, and glades.


Year-Long Grazing: Continuous grazing for a calendar year.