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The Natural Resources Conservation Service Land Resource Hierarchy and Ecological Sites

Shawn W. Salley, Curtis J Talbot, Joel R. Brown
Soil Science Society of America journal 2016 v.80 no.1 pp. 1-9
Natural Resources Conservation Service, geography, landscapes, resource management, United States
Resource areas of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have long been important to soil geography. At both regional and landscape scales, resource areas are used to stratify programs and practices based on geographical areas where resource concerns, problems, or treatment needs are similar. However, the inability to quantifiably delineate and classify resource area boundaries hinders communication across the NRCS and federal agencies. Without strong standards delineating geography and concepts, resource areas become less scientifically defensible and inconsistent in addressing similar resource management issues. Furthermore, with continued development of ecological site (ES) concepts, there is a renewed interest in understanding the relationships between resource areas and ESs. In this paper we: (i) review the concepts and history of landscape classifications leading to the predominant regional classification systems used by federal agencies in the USA, (ii) propose strengthening the NRCS’s Land Resource Hierarchy (LRH) by building resource area concepts on nesting principles of subdivision instead of aggregation, and (iii) place ecological site concepts as a nested resource area within the LRH.