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Rangeland Assessment and Management Tools

This page provides information about tools for assessment and management of sagebrush rangelands. Over the past several years, there has been a proliferation of rangeland datasets and decision support tools, which provides new opportunities to use a wealth of powerful new data sources in decision-making. However, it also poses challenges in keeping up with an ever changing list of products, understanding their uses and strengths/weaknesses, and determining how they can efficiently generate actionable information to improve management outcomes.

Overview of Tools and Resources

  • The Rangeland Tools Diagram provides a simple visual depiction of commonly used and emerging tools for assessment and management of rangelands based on their management application and scale of use.
  • The SageCon Tools Navigator contains links to some of the primary decision support tools for rangeland planning in Oregon, including three tools for data delivery, development monitoring and mitigation siting in Oregon, and other rangeland management tools and resources that can be used throughough the West.
  • Example: A short description of an example Rangeland Pre-Assessment Workflow highlights the use of tools such as remotely sensed maps and other datasets prior to starting a rangeland assessment. These tools can can improve efficiency in many steps of the process, from planning field data collection to reporting results.

Using Remotely Sensed Maps in Rangelands

collage of screenshots from vegetation mapsRemotely sensed maps have the potential to revolutionize rangeland management due to the large volume of spatially-continuous data depicting rangeland vegetation. In addition, many newer products map vegetation each year over multiple decades, opening new doors to efficiently evaluate trends over time across large landscapes. The links below provide practical resources to help users find, understand, evaluate and use maps in rangeland management applications.

  • A list of rangeland vegetation map products has been compiled and will be continually updated to provide basic information about the various map products depicting rangeland vegetation cover.
  • Guiding principles for using satellite-derived maps in rangeland management (Allred et al in review) outlines four principles for using remotely sensed maps in rangeland management as a practical guide for how managers may approach using maps in rangeland management applications.
  • See the short guidance document for evaluating and summarizing map products. More thorough guidance with examples will be coming in 2021.
  • Example: The SageCon Invasives Initiative produced geographic strategy maps to aid in planning proactive, landscape level management of invasive annual grasses. The short Management Guide describes how the Management Strategy Map can be used by local groups to help devise a landscape-scale approach to annual grass management.

Tools for Simplifying Complex Rangeland Landscapes

  • Biotic condition: Threat-based land management (also called threat models) provides a framework for land managers to efficiently identify, discuss and address the landscape-level threats of invasive annual grasses, wildfire and juniper in sagebrush rangelands. This framework has been applied across millions of acres in Oregon and is growing throughout the West. See the SageSHARE website for more information, including a Field Guide and Manager's Guide. A threat-based model ecostate map in Oregon can be found on the SageCon Landscape Planning Tool, and a suite of ecostate time series maps from the mid-1980s to present will be released in early 2021.
  • Abiotic condition: Ecological sites provide important information on site potential based on soil and climatic properties, but can be difficult to apply across large landscapes because they often occur at scales too small for landscape scale management. Disturbance response groups provide an efficient way of simplifying ecological sites based on their responses to natural or human-caused disturbances, allowing managers to simplify complex landscapes.


These resources were compiled by Megan Creutzburg, Institute for Natural Resources, as part of the Oregon SageCon Partnership. It was last updated in November 2020.