The Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health (IIRH) protocol is designed for assessing ecosystem function on rangelands and woodlands. The protocol was developed by an interagency cadre of technical experts and has been in use by for two decades. The protocol is well accepted and is a valuable tool for communicating rangeland conditions with stakeholders. Technical Reference 1734-6 Version 4, which describes the IIRH protocol, was published in 2005.
Refinements and improvements identified through over a decade of experience with class participants and field office personnel applying the protocol as outlined in Version 4 were incorporated into Version 5 of the technical reference. Indicators and attributes used in previous versions of the technical reference are largely the same, and following instructions in Version 5 is not expected to result in differing attribute ratings as compared to assessments completed using Version 4 of TR 1734-6 assuming that the same reference information is used.
Changes incorporated in Version 5 are designed to improve the ease of using the protocol in the field and clarify instructions. Some key changes and clarifications in Version 5 include:
- Slight modifications to several indicator names to improve the consistency between field users.
- Changes to the protocol to assess the Functional/Structural Groups indicator to better reflect the complexity of this indicator and improve consistency of the rating process.
- Emphasis on use of quantitative measurements to support evaluations. BLM is particularly 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 to improve consistency of the indicator rating process.
- A new requirement to complete the reference portion of the updated Functional/Structural (F/S) worksheet when developing or updating ecological site reference sheets.