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Online Tools for Northwest Federal Rangeland Managers

Two people measuring sagebrush. A woman holds a tablet and a man uses a measuring tape.
Two people take measurements of sagebrush for monitoring. Image credit: Jeremy Roberts, Conservation Media

Northwest federal rangelands span more than 36 million acres across Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, greater than 22 percent of the combined land area in these states. These lands provide many benefits, including forage for livestock, wildlife habitat, water filtration, recreation opportunities, and carbon sequestration. Federal rangelands are also culturally important to ranchers, Native Americans, outdoor enthusiasts, and others. The ecosystem services from rangelands and the human communities they support are vulnerable to climate change effects. Likely effects of climate change on Northwest rangelands include:

  • Increased size and frequency of fires
  • Increased frequency of drought and intense heat
  • Reduced snowpack and more precipitation falling as rain rather than snow
  • Increased variation and intensity of precipitation
  • Earlier plant green-up and browning (senescence)
  • Expansion of invasive annual grasses

Decision support tools

Decision support tools can help land managers understand, prepare for, and better respond to current climate conditions and the effects of climate change. When paired with local knowledge and on-the-ground assessments, these tools aid managers in identifying climate change effects and vulnerabilities. This information is needed to set priorities for climate change adaptation activities that help to sustain these valuable resources.

The online tools listed below provide information on weather, climate, stream flow, vegetation from satellite images, and some real-time information to see changes unfold across a large landscape. Many of these tools provide estimates based on satellite-derived data, historical data, and models. The information available in these tools differs in accuracy and spatial scale (state and county levels, with some down to ~30-meter scale). The utility of these tools depends on the management question being asked and on using best practices. These tools can also facilitate timely communication between land managers and permittees.

Rangeland managers usually make within-year or multi-year decisions. Therefore, tools are grouped by these timeframes. Within-year tools can inform springtime and growing-season meetings with permittees and also project potential fires as the season progresses. Multi-year tools provide information that can support allotment management plans and climate adaptation plans.

Disclaimer: These links were working at the time of this publication, March 2023. These tools undergo maintenance most typically at the end of the grazing season. If the website is down, please check back again soon.

Within-Year Tools

FuelCast: Watch monthly fuel and fire forecasts during the growing season to stay up to date on fire danger, updated monthly during the growing season. About.

Rangeland Analysis Platform (RAP), Great Basin Rangeland Fire Probability: View a map of the Great Basin for fire season or annual likelihood of large fires (>1000 acres), updated in early March. About.

Rangeland Allotment Monitoring System (RAMS), Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI): Identify drought potential on U.S. Forest Service allotments with EDDI, a metric that notes how “thirsty” the air is, updated every two weeks. About: Video, StoryMap.

Quick Drought Response Index (QuickDRI): Estimates plant drought stress over a 1-month timeframe by combining satellite, climate, and biophysical information, updated weekly. About: Video, Factsheet.

Vegetation Drought Response Index (VegDri): Estimates plant drought stress over a seasonal 6- to 9-month timeframe using satellite, climate, and biophysical information, updated weekly. About.

Compare Current to Historical Data and Conditions for Oregon, Washington, Idaho: View state or county drought designations from year 2000 to present as determined by the U.S. Drought Monitor, updated weekly. About.

Climate Toolbox, Climate Mapper: View observed precipitation and temperatures for different time periods: 7, 15, 30, 60, 90 days and other time periods. Also see 28-day and 7-month forecasts for temperature and precipitation (e.g., maximum temperature anomaly or precipitation anomaly). About.

Snow Water Equivalent for the Northwest: Compare today’s snowpack to historical (1991–2020) levels, updated daily. About.

National Water Dashboard for Idaho, Oregon, Washington: Observe real-time stream flows and weather-related data. About.

Water Watch for Idaho, Oregon, Washington: Compare today’s stream flows to historical stream flows, updated hourly. About.

Rangeland Allotment Monitoring System (RAMs) , Phenology Feature: See changes in green-up and browning on U.S. Forest Service allotments and compare to previous years, updated weekly. About: Video, StoryMap.   

Rangeland Analysis Platform (RAP), Production Explorer Feature, Current Year: Compare current estimates of herbaceous vegetation production to past years, updated every 16 days. About:  “How to” Video, Background Video, Biomass Data Method.

Wallowa County Livestock Early Warning System (WC-LEWS): Use this community-based tool for Wallowa County, Oregon to forecast forage quantity relative to the past five years, updated weekly. About

Multi-year Tools

Climate Change Adaptation Library: Discover specific, management-informed climate change adaptation practices applicable to federal rangelands management. About.

Climate Smart Restoration Tool: Find where to plant or source plant materials that are suited to current and future climates. About.

U.S. Geological Service Land Treatment Exploration Tool (LTET): Plan seeding or planting with 12-month forecasts for precipitation, soil moisture, and other variables as well as estimated probabilities of sagebrush establishment, updated daily. The treatment histories available at this site are an additional aspect of this tool but are only for Department of the Interior lands, not for U.S. Forest Service lands. About: Video, "How to Guide” .

Climate Toolbox: is a collection of tools that shows projected changes in future climate with low and high emissions scenarios as well as historical and current climate information. About.

Climate Mapper: Maps mid- and end-of-century projected changes in temperature, precipitation, wind, humidity, fire metrics (100-hour fuel moisture, very large fires, percent area burned) and other climate variables. About.

Future Boxplots: See the midpoint and range of climate model projections for historical and future projected climates (mid-century and end of century) for temperature, precipitation, length of growing season, fire metrics and other climate variables. About.

Climate Toolbox, Future Streamflows : Shows future climate projections of monthly stream flows for mid- and end-of-century as compared to historical stream flows. About.

Rangeland Allotment Monitoring System (RAMS), Annual Productivity feature: Compare annual production over time (1984 to 2021) across U.S. Forest Service allotments and pastures, typically updated annually. About: Story Map, Video.

 Rangeland Analysis Platform (RAP): About.

Historical Production Feature: View changes in estimated annual production and variability over time (1986–2021), typically updated annually in February or March. About:  “How to” Video, Biomass Data Method.

Vegetation Feature and Sagebrush Conservation Feature: Use the draw feature to see annual precipitation and estimated grass, shrub, tree, and bare ground cover for 1986 to the present. This tool also estimates the extent of annual grass invasion and overlays data with Greater Sage-grouse priority areas for conservation. Cover estimates are at a 30-meter resolution. These data are typically updated annually in February or March. About: “How to” Video, Cover Data Method.