Idaho Dept. of Agriculture, BLM develop rangeland monitoring app to assist ranchers

Idaho Dept. of Agriculture, BLM develop rangeland monitoring app to assist ranchers

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Owyhee County rancher Brenda Richards talks about the importance of photo monitoring with the Survey123 field app in an Idaho State Department of Agriculture/Bureau of Land Management video.

BOISE — The Idaho State Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Land Management are introducing a new app created to provide ease and flexibility for ranchers participating in the Cooperative Photo Monitoring Program. Survey123 is a platform created by Esri, a data analysis software, and is available to download for free on any mobile device.

The Photo Monitoring Program is designed to identify trends in rangeland health by equipping ranchers to collect data and photos from the same site locations each year.

“We want to be able to look at a 10-year data set and detect change from the photos,” said Thadd Strom, range management specialist with the agriculture department.

Through specialized training provided by the department of agriculture, permittees help boost the amount of data available for management decisions.

“It’s important for us to get involved in photo monitoring so we have data to back up some of the decisions that are being made, both for us and for an agency,” Owyhee County rancher Brenda Richards said.

Before the development of Survey123, photo monitoring involved a cumbersome series of paper forms, but by storing a permittee’s data in the app, Survey123 provides streamlined data collection. Additionally, the app is not limited by the availability of cell service, which is an advantage for many permittees on Idaho’s public lands.

“You don’t have to worry about being in cell service,” Strom said. “Any smartphone will save your information until you get back to a phone signal or Wi-Fi.”

The data provided by photo monitoring helps provide guidance for the BLM.

“It gives us a way to know we’ll be getting consistent data,” BLM Rangeland Management Specialist Nika Lepak said. “We incorporate that data into our own monitoring files and use it for land health assessments and grazing permit renewals.”

For more information about the Survey123 app, watch the video at or contact the ISDA Range Management Program at 208-332-8500.


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