Two range health assessment methods were tested against quantitative field measures of soil and vegetation in rough fescue grasslands: the British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range Uplands Function Checklist (ufc) and the Grassland Monitoring Manual (gmm) produced by the Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia. The range health assessment scores were related to most of the quantitative measures taken. Only saturated hydraulic conductivity (ks), colour and thickness of the soil ah horizon, microbiotic crust, and bunchgrass seed heads were found to be completely unrelated. Both methods were found to be equally repeatable by samplers and were correlated to most selected quantitative measures of range health. The methods did not agree completely in their assessments of range health of the 28 treatment units examined. A better agreement between the two methods was achieved in range health scoring of poor sites but the methods did not agree in the scoring of better sites, especially those with a high component of Kentucky bluegrass. This is due to a different emphasis on degree of soil and site stability by the ufc method versus an emphasis on biotic integrity by the gmm method. There were potential weaknesses identified for both methods. The gmm method appears to be too heavily weighted towards plant community information, while the ufc method may benefit from increased plant community information, especially when applied to rough fescue-dominated grasslands.
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Updated April 11, 2011