By Laurie Wink, from the Michigan City News Dispatch LAPORTE, IN - Melissa Mischke firmly believes that maps can save the world - or, if not the world, at least LaPorte County.
Mischke is LaPorte County's first coordinator of Geographic Information Systems. GIS is an increasingly popular tool that uses computer software technology to link all kinds of data to a precise geographic location, producing full-color digital maps.
GIS takes information and creates visual images so that people can see, quite literally, the "big picture." One GIS system most people are familiar with is MapQuest, used to produce navigational maps and directions from one location to another.
In the County Assessor's Office, new GIS-generated images are replacing hand-drawn parcel maps and countless Mylar overlays that have been used to show soil types and other land features. To help calculate farm land taxes, Mischke uses a database of information, including USDA soil types, to create digital maps that show land type, a breakdown of soil types, total acreage and the percent of total soils by soil types. Parcel maps can be produced to show residential, vegetative, water and agricultural areas, each in a different color. The parcel information can also be produced in chart form.
By Jeremy Webber, IUPUI
There is constant debate regarding the hydrologic connectivity of isolated wetlands. The extent to which these systems can be protected was further limited due to the outcome of the SWANCC decision in 2001 (Solid Waste Agency of North Cook County, IL). The Army Corp of Engineers denied an application for a Section 404 permit to develop a non-toxic solid waste facility in a location where "isolated" wetlands were present due to the threat of removing aquatic habitat from migratory birds. SWANCC took the Army Corp of Engineers to the U.S. Supreme Court and won the case. The Court argued that since the wetlands in question were not connected to navigable waterways they were no longer to be considered for protection under the Clean Water Act. This ruling narrows the scope of water and wetland areas subject to regulation.
We are using data from the 2005 Orthophotography project in an innovative way that may contribute to protecting fragile wetland ecosystems. Proving the hydrologic connectedness of these systems is essential for their future protection and is what we are trying to illustrate by applying hydrologic modeling routines in a GIS environment on the 2005 Digital Surface Elevation Model.
Stream network data derived from high resolution digital surface models are currently being investigated as a management tool to assist in understanding the links between urbanization, drainage basin dynamics, and isolated wetlands. Modeling stream networks from high resolution data may prove to be more representative of surface hydrology and could be a valuable tool for demonstrating the connectivity of "isolated" wetlands. It is not intended that these stream networks represent channels of active streams, but illustrate the connection of the surface hydrology to "isolated" wetlands and primary headwater streams.
To learn more about wetlands and their connectivity, register for the IGIC seminar
"Using GIS to Identify and Understand Wetlands" Friday, August 17th, 1:00-3:30pm
Many of you have already seen some of the photos from the Greensburg, Kansas tornado. How prepared are you to deal with a disaster like this in your area? Many of you work in public safety and have plans for dealing with disasters as it relates to your job but how prepared are your families? Don't get caught without a plan. The American Red Cross, FEMA, and Homeland Security have some great resources on preparing for disasters.