Nevada Rangeland Monitoring Handbook | Third Edition

Developing a Cooperative Monitoring Plan

A monitoring plan specifies who is going to monitor which attributes (short- and long-term, or implementation and effectiveness monitoring), where and when to monitor, and the techniques to be used. Interpretation of the monitoring information provides a basis for adjusting management. An adequate management plan contains a monitoring plan related to objectives and relevant to actions. Appendix K, Form 1 provides a monitoring plan template. Appendix K, Form 2 provides a space for recording specific decisions about monitoring that will happen at each of the study sites, key areas, critical areas, photo points or designated monitoring areas. If the tables are not used as forms, all the same information should be thought about and recorded in a narrative monitoring plan. This is similar to the information recorded in the Cooperative Monitoring Agreement template in Appendix A — Cooperative Monitoring.

The Public Lands Council (PLC) and Forest Service (FS) entered into a national memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2014 (Appendix A — Cooperative Monitoring). The Public Lands Council (PLC) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) entered into a national memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2004 and in 2017 to encourage and support cooperative rangeland monitoring between BLM and permittees. The MOU and subsequent BLM Washington Office materials provided guidance for implementing cooperative monitoring. Participation in cooperative monitoring is voluntary for the permittee in compliance with the MOU and guidance in Nevada BLM policy. The FS did not provide guidance at the Washington Office level, but participation in cooperative monitoring in compliance with the MOU is Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest policy. Both MOUs are in Appendix A — Cooperative Monitoring.

Monitoring of federally managed rangelands by a livestock producer necessitates a Cooperative Monitoring Plan if the rancher’s monitoring data are to be accepted, used by the agency, and become part of the official record for the allotment or use area. To be most useful in ongoing management and legal protection, monitoring data must become part of the official record. This is where cooperation becomes essential.

A cooperative monitoring plan should be developed jointly with the agency(ies), rancher(s) and possibly others. Typically, a cooperative monitoring plan will outline the resource issues (if any), resource objectives, monitoring methods, who is responsible for collecting the data, and when and where data are to be collected. Usually, the livestock operator will focus on and collect short-term monitoring information (livestock actual use, photos, some type of utilization data, etc.) on an annual basis, and agency staff will collect long-term trend data (progress toward objectives). However, some ranchers will also want to collect long-term data (repeat photographs coupled with quantitative data tied to objectives collected over a period of five or more years). And, agencies may want to validate short-term data.

A complete suite of monitoring methods and data would be ideal; however, there are personnel, time and budget limitations. These limitations require focus on the essential information needed for adaptive management. The focus on efficiency and effectiveness requires the participation of key people with a shared commitment to the objectives and monitoring plan, including interpretation.

Appendix A — Cooperative Monitoring provides specific and detailed information on how to set up and initiate a Cooperative Monitoring Plan based largely on the Nevada State BLM Director’s Information Memorandum on Cooperative Monitoring with modifications to meet FS needs.

People on a ranch tour discussing rangeland management.
Figure 42. Agee Smith and the Shoesole Holistic Management Team tours the Cottonwood Ranch and two other ranches each year to discuss their goals, strategies and results.