Announcement of Availability of Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health Technical Reference (1734-6).

IB 2021-007
Information Bulletin

December 1, 2020


In Reply Refer To:
1734 (HQ-200/220) P

Information Bulletin No. 2021-007


To:                   All State Directors

From:               Assistant Director, Resources and Planning

Subject:           Announcement of Availability of Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health Technical Reference (1734-6).    

This Information Bulletin (IB) announces the availability of Version 5 of Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health (IIRH) Technical Reference [(TR) 1734-6] and provides recommendations for BLM’s use and application of the protocol.

The IIRH protocol has been developed by an interagency cadre of technical experts from the BLM, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Geological Service (USGS) and United States Forest Service (USFS) and has been in use by multiple federal agencies for two decades. The protocol is well-accepted as a valuable tool for assessing ecosystem function of rangelands and woodlands and communicating with stakeholders about resource conditions. It is the primary protocol used for rapidly assessing the condition of rangelands to support the evaluation of the Standards for Rangeland Health across the BLM. 

Technical Reference 1734-6 Version 4 was published in 2005. In 2018, a draft of Version 5 was peer-reviewed by the USGS and was subsequently transmitted within the BLM via WO IM 2018-064 to solicit review, testing and comments. A draft of Version 5 was used for trainings in 2018 and 2019, and feedback from class participants has been incorporated into the final TR. The draft was also distributed for review to partner agencies, the Society for Rangeland Management’s Rangeland Applications and Management Committee, and the Great Basin Institute. The authors coordinated with the NRCS on changes that affect reference information included in Ecological Site Descriptions.

Changes incorporated in Version 5 of IIRH are designed to improve application of the protocol in the field with clarified and expanded instructions. Some key changes and clarifications include:

  • Slight modifications to several indicator names to improve the consistency between users.
  • Addition of a functional/structural groups table in reference sheets, and changes to the assessment protocol for the functional/structural groups indicator to better reflect the complexity of this indicator and improve consistency of ratings.
  • Introduction of a functional/structural groups worksheet to assist with consistent rating of the functional/structural groups indicator. This functional/structural groups worksheet should be completed and attached to each evaluation form for BLM IIRH assessments.
  • Emphasis on use of quantitative measurements to support evaluations. BLM is encouraged to use standardized core methods consistent with the Assessment, Inventory and Monitoring (AIM) Strategy.
  • Inclusion of a reference sheet checklist to ensure that reference sheets contain the breadth of information in each indicator narrative required for consistency in the rating process.
  • Addition of appendices with supporting materials and information, including instructions for developing functional/structural groups, describing soils, identifying ecological sites, and estimating annual production.

Hard copies of the technical reference are available from the BLM Printed Materials Distribution Service (PMDS).  Submit consolidated orders to PMDS using form 1556-1 by email at or FAX at 303-236-0845. If you have questions regarding the technical reference or IIRH protocol, contact Nika Lepak, Rangeland Management Specialist, Division of Resource Services, National Operations Center, at; or Jessica Phillips, Rangeland Management Specialist, Division of Forest, Rangeland, Riparian, and Plant Conservation, HQ-220, at

Signed by:                                                                   Authenticated by:

David Jenkins                                                              Robert M. Williams

Assistant Director                                                       Division of External Affairs,(HQ-630)

Resources and Planning


1 Attachment

            1 - Version 5 of Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health Technical Reference (202 pp)