Land use change in USEPA's Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) is occurring rapidly, particularly with the loss of agricultural land and gain in forest and urbanized land use. The risk of losing habitats and ecosystems that are critical to the health of the Region is therefore very high; however, identifying high quality, critical habitats remains a challenge. To address this issue, USEPA researchers developed a spatially-explicit, geographic information system (GIS)-based model called the Critical Ecosystem Assessment Model or CrEAM. The CrEAM generated a relative ecological significance score for each undeveloped 300 m by 300 m cell within USEPA Region 5. This report details protocols that were developed to gather field data to independently and quantitatively verify the CrEAM generated score. The protocols prescribe data collection which capture measures of diversity, rarity, and persistence for forested, nonforested, and wetland ecosystems. For each 300 m by 300 m site, data are collected in a 4-hour time period, by a team of 4 people. Data collected using the protocols in field trials in 2005 and 2006 did not match well with the corresponding CrEAM scores.