National Resource Inventory (NRI)
- 2005 – 2021 (6 states)
NRI uses a suite of sampling protocols including line point intercept, gap intercept, plant height, sagebrush shape, plant census, rangeland health, and soil stability tests. Sampling occurs on herbaceous and woody species on both upland and riparian communities. NRI also requires expertise in plant identification, site characterization, soil identification, ESD correlation, and the ability to describe community dynamics. The NRI projects Synergy has implemented over the years demonstrate our team’s ability to closely follow specific field and data protocols as well as handle the management and logistics of multiple crews on a large project over a short period of time. All of these projects were completed on time and on budget. Additionally, our NRI projects in Montana required additional soil work and expertise, along with the standard NRI protocols. Full soil descriptions were written for each point by a qualified soil scientist following the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) cooperative soil survey protocols.
Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) Project, 2017
U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management – Wind River Bighorn Basin District, Cody and Worland Field Offices
Synergy completed 100 AIM segments in 2017. AIM consists of a suite of sampling protocols to measure herbaceous and woody species on upland rangeland communities. Protocols included line point intercept, canopy gap intercept, vegetation height, sagebrush shape, species inventory, and a soil stability test. All data was entered electronically in the field into the DIMA program in handheld tablets. AIM requires expertise in plant identification, site characterization, soil identification, ESD correlation, and the ability to identify and describe community dynamics. The AIM strategy highly emphasizes QA/QC measures to ensure high-quality, standardized data collection that populates a centralized database.
Northeast Nevada Wild Horse Eco-Sanctuary RMP Amendment/EIS, 2013
Elko County, Nevada – Spruce Allotment
Subcontractor to Environmental Management and Planning Solutions, Inc. (EMPSi)
U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management Office – Elko District
Synergy collected rangeland data on over 200 sample locations on the Spruce Allotment in Elko County, Nevada in 2013, including 50 Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) inventories. Synergy and Open Range Consulting (ORC) teamed on this project to extrapolate 28 key areas and over 200 ORC plots to describe approximately 400,000 acres of rangeland. This included integrating the AIM protocol at 22 existing key areas and establishment of 28 new AIM key area locations. Synergy used both historic Bureau of Land Management (BLM) protocols and new AIM protocols at existing key areas. Sampling occurred on a wide variety of ecological sites on over 400,000 acres. Protocols include line point intercept, gap intercept, plant height, sagebrush shape, plant census, rangeland health, and soil stability tests. All data were entered in the field into the Database for Inventory, Monitoring, and Assessment (DIMA) and reports were created for BLM from DIMA. Synergy delivered both a populated DIMA database and necessary summary reports to BLM. Synergy also completed road surveys, weed surveys, utilization surveys, and range improvement surveys.
Ecological Site Description Development
ESD Development for MLRAs 10, 15, 18, 21, 23, 43A, 43B, 44A, 44B, 46X, 82A, 83A, 85, 86A, and 150, 2005–2015
USDA-NRCS and BLM in Montana, Texas, California, and Oregon
Since 2005, Synergy has collected soil and vegetation data for use in developing ecological site descriptions (ESD) for almost 250 ecological site reference sample points. These projects included design of monitoring protocols, development of a rangeland database, coordination with stakeholders, collection of field data, analysis of data, and preparation of data reports. In particular, ESD preparation included development of ecological concepts, integration of field data, research of biological processes, and preparation of final reports. Synergy worked closely with NRCS, local, state, and regional experts to develop core concepts for sites differentiated during the soil survey process. Our team also served on interagency committees and worked with interdisciplinary teams from the NRCS, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, and BLM to develop, field test, and evaluate field protocols, ESD concepts, and ESD organization. This input played a role in the development of the Monitoring Manual for Grassland, Shrubland, and Savannah Ecosystems, how data were collected with the DIMA, and how they were analyzed, summarized, and reported in ESDs.
Moreover, Synergy incorporated state and transition models and developed state-of-the-art conceptual models for these critical NRCS inventory and planning tools. Together with ARS and NRCS, Synergy has also developed monitoring tools, inventory protocols, data recording tools, conceptual models, ESD development protocols, and data management protocols.
California Riparian ESD Project, 2007-2009
This project was unique in its requirement to develop monitoring and reporting protocols. Due to the complexity of the riparian sites studied and the interconnectivity of the communities found on those sites, initial field work showed that existing protocols would not provide adequate information on community dynamics. Furthermore, preparation of the State and Transition Model and community descriptions demonstrated that the existing ESD template restricted the ability for the ESD to provide full description of the site. Synergy worked with NRCS specialists at the state, regional, and national levels to explore options to improve ESDs and provided input incorporated into the current ESD template. This project also included training of NRCS and research scientists on riparian ESD development and use.
The following tasks were associated with preparation of riparian ESDs in California:
- Field monitoring
- Data summary
- Photo documentation
- Development of a multi-tier sampling plan
- Recommendations for riparian ESD development
- Preparation of drafts of the Riparian ESD for review by state and regional experts
- Presentation of findings of this project at NRCS Riparian ESD Workshop
- Participation in classroom and field training of NRCS staff at Riparian ESD Workshop
- Presentation of findings on challenges of riparian ESD development and riparian ESD contract development at 2 workshops at the Society for Range Management annual meeting in Albuquerque in February 2009
This contract was completed on budget. The timeline was extended for this project to incorporate additional data and input from NRCS.
Utah Rangeland Health Reference Sheet Project, 2011
USDA-NRCS State Office, Utah
This project included the development of over 50 rangeland health reference worksheets based on existing ESDs and soil data. Synergy developed a system to increase consistency among reference sheets and developed a summary matrix for all parameters of all rangeland health sheets. This provided for improved consistency and distinction between ecological sites. This also facilitated the review process for NRCS.