- Focus Areas
- Featured Projects
- Oregon Explorer
The Institute for Natural Resources works to advance centralized, science-based natural resource information for Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Through services including data integration and access, technical analyses, science reviews, research, coordination, and capacity building, INR delivers management-relevant information to natural resource decision-makers in the state of Oregon and beyond.
INR’s Rangeland Sustainability Program addresses the urgent issues facing rangeland ecosystems across eastern Oregon and the Intermountain West, including invasive species, large mega-fires, woodland expansion, drought, and climate change. These stressors impact ecosystem function and biodiversity, productivity for wildlife and livestock producers, and rural communities and recreation opportunities. The program has a particular focus on the sagebrush steppe ecosystem in eastern Oregon but addresses issues that impact rangelands more broadly within the state and across the western United States.
INR’s Rangeland Sustainability Program fosters sustainable management of rangelands through the collection, synthesis, and application of actionable and relevant data, tools and technology.
INR’s growing Rangeland Sustainability Program has multiple ongoing projects, including those listed below.
INR employs permanent and seasonal staff to collect monitoring data in the rangelands of eastern Oregon and neighboring states. Through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Terrestrial Assessment, Inventory and Monitoring (AIM) program, INR has collected standardized vegetation and soils data across thousands of plots in Oregon, Washington and Nevada since 2016. AIM monitoring provides valuable information about rangeland status and trends, and informs Land Health Assessments, post-fire Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation treatments, the Sage-Grouse Habitat Assessment Framework, and other information needs for BLM to manage public rangelands across more than three-quarters of southeastern Oregon. AIM data is also critical in building spatial datasets that are increasingly used in landscape-scale, cross-boundary planning.
Over the last decade, the production of new datasets, scientific studies, tools and technologies has exploded as interest in sagebrush rangelands has increased and technology has opened doors to the production of vast quantities of data. These new products present opportunities to use a wealth of powerful new data sources to inform decision-making, but also present challenges for users in keeping up with an ever-changing list of new technical tools, understanding their uses and limitations, and determining how they can efficiently and effectively provide actionable information to guide management. INR works actively with partners to provide technical support and resources to our partners to help integrate these tools into management applications, and has produced a rangeland assessment and management tools resource page to provide guidance to users.
The SageCon Partnership is a unique collaborative group that works together to build resilience in Oregon’s sagebrush rangelands. SageCon strives to create a supportive, enabling environment for successful and strategic on-the-ground actions to improve rangeland health, conserve sage-grouse populations and other wildlife species, and support rural ranching livelihoods. INR staff have played an active role in project management, facilitation and technical support to SageCon since 2014 and continue to lead technical support and coordination, including producing the SageCon Dashboard. INR has also built a suite of decision support tools and maps to support coordinated sagebrush and sage-grouse planning in Oregon, and curated datasets to support landscape-scale, cross-boundary implementation can be found in the SageCon Landscape Planning Tool.
Uncharacteristically large wildfires have burned millions of acres of rangelands in Oregon, and wildfire impacts are increasingly visible and concerning to Oregonians throughout the state. Southeastern Oregon rangelands are particularly vulnerable to fire because their resilience is limited by the arid climate, invasive species such as cheatgrass have gained a foothold across millions of acres, and they are at risk of complete ecosystem conversion when stressors of wildfire and invasive annual grasses converge. INR works with partners and collaborators to improve wildfire risk mapping in rangeland ecosystems and make wildfire risk information accessible to Oregonians.
In addition the projects above, INR’s Rangeland Sustainability Program supports the work of INR’s Oregon Biodiversity Information Center (ORBIC) in eastern Oregon rangelands. This includes the Oregon Natural Areas Program, ORBIC’s efforts to evaluate the status and trends of all rare, threatened and endangered species in Oregon, and efforts to help track and control invasive species, including iMapInvasives.
INR’s work under the Rangeland Sustainability Program is supported by the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and US Fish & Wildlife Service. In addition to these key agencies, we work with many collaborators including a wide network of SageCon partners. If you are interested in learning more about our work, please contact Megan Creutzburg.
Doherty K, et al. 2022. A sagebrush conservation design to proactively restore America’s sagebrush biome. USGS OFR 2022-1081. https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2022/1081/ofr20221081.pdf.
Creutzburg, M.K., A.C. Olsen, M.A. Anthony, J.D. Maestas, J.B. Cupples, N.R. Vora, B.W. Allred. 2022. A geographic strategy for cross-jurisdictional, proactive management of invasive annual grasses in Oregon. Rangelands 44(3): 173-180. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rala.2021.12.007.
Allred, B.W., M.K. Creutzburg, et al. 2022. Guiding principles for using satellite-derived maps in rangeland management. Rangelands 44(1): 78-86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rala.2021.09.004.
Creutzburg, M.K., Grossmann, E.B. Conklin, D. 2015. Climate change and land management impact rangeland condition and sage-grouse habitat in southeastern Oregon. AIMS Env Sci 2: 203-236.
Creutzburg, M.K., J.E. Halofsky, J.S. Halofsky, and T.A. Christopher. 2015. Climate change and land management in the rangelands of central Oregon. Environmental Management 55: 43-55.
Creutzburg, M. K., Halofsky, J.S., Hemstrom, M.A. 2012. Using state-and-transition models to project cheatgrass and juniper invasion in southeastern Oregon sagebrush steppe. In: Kerns, B.K., Shlisky, A.J., Daniel, C.J., eds. Proceedings of the First Landscape State-and-Transition Simulation Modeling Conference, June 14–16, 2011, Portland, Oregon. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-869. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. Pg 73–84.