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March 4, 2013
In Reply Refer To:
1734 (220) P
Instruction Bulletin No. 2013-046
To:      All Field Office Officials
From: Division Chief; Forest, Rangeland, Riparian and Plant Conservation
Subject: Availability of InteragencyEcological Site Handbook for Rangelands, H-1734-1
This Information Bulletin (IB) transmits the new handbook H-1734-1, Interagency Ecological Site Handbook for Rangelands (IESHR)This IB is applicable to numerous programs that involve soil and vegetation resource management including soil, water, and air management; rangeland management; riparian; wildlife Management; threatened and endangered species; plant conservation; wildland fire management; the National Landscape Conservation System; forest management; wild horse and burro; and resource management planning.

The use of this IESHR will improve the capability to efficiently complete development of ecological sites nationwide and lead to improved cooperation in technology development and application among agencies and partners.  This handbook can be found at the following website hosted by Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS): http://directives.sc.egov.usda.gov/OpenNonWebContent.aspx?content=33943.wba

The NRCS, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have jointly developed a standardized method to cooperatively define, describe, and delineate ecological sites. Ecological sites and their descriptions provide a valuable tool to assist field offices with planning, analysis and decision-making.  Ecological sites are a necessary element of our conservation planning and resource assessment ‘toolbox’ to provide science-based information. The NRCS, USFS, and BLM will work cooperatively with other Federal, state and local agencies, organizations, universities and academia to further develop and implement the ecological site concepts.

This IESHR was jointly developed by the NRCS, USFS, and BLM and contains processes and procedures to implement the policy outlined in the Rangeland Interagency Ecological Site Manual (M-1734-1) approved jointly by the NRCS, USFS, and BLM in June 2010 (http://directives.sc.egov.usda.gov/OpenNonWebContent.aspx?content=33943.wba).

The associated handbook transmittal sheet is attached.

Background:  The NRCS, USFS, and BLM have a common objective of utilizing science-based technical processes to sustain and enhance natural resources and the environment.  These agencies have in the past utilized different methods to stratify rangeland ecosystems into units for planning, analysis and decision-making.  Private and public lands under these agencies’ jurisdictions are intermingled throughout much of the United States; therefore, this standardized system to define and describe rangeland ecological sites will be more efficient and defensible across jurisdictions.
Implementation of this handbook will complement existing agency protocols for the inventory of soil and ecosystems.  It will facilitate the stratification of rangeland landscapes according to their ability to respond similarly to ecological stressors.
In early March 2011, a draft IESHR was sent via email for review and comment to a selected group of 70 BLM employees from States, Centers, and the Washington Office (WO) that represented various programs. This group was agreed upon by Deputy State Directors and Division Chief, WO-220.
With approval of this Interagency Ecological Site Handbook for Rangelands the following Handbooks and Technical References will need to be updated: National Range Handbook (H-4410-1), Rangeland Health Standards Handbook (H-4180-1), Integrated Habitat Inventory and Classification System Manual (M-6602), Integrated Vegetation Management Handbook (H-1740-2), Land Use Planning Handbook (H-1601-1), Ecological Site Inventory Technical Reference (TR-1734-7), and Riparian-Wetland Ecological Site Inventory Technical Reference (TR-1737-7).
For questions on this IB contact Bob Bolton at (202) 912-7204 (rbolton@blm.gov), or Dr. Larisa Ford at (202) 912-7137 (laford@blm.gov). For specific questions on the handbook contact Mike “Sherm” Karl at 303-236-0166 (mkarl@blm.gov).
Signed by:                                                                               Authenticated by:
Lynda L. Boody                                                                        Ambyr Fowler
Division Chief                                                                           Division of IRM Governance, WO-560
Forest, Rangeland, Riparian and                   
Plant Conservation




Last updated: 07-22-2013