Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Getting Dirty in Idaho

GIS: A tool for Smart Land Management

In June of 2009 Ms. Daryl Swanstrom, a member of the Washington College Board of Visitor’s and Governors, invited Stewart Bruce, Josh Biringer ‘12, and Samantha Bulkilvish ‘09 out to her 44 acre ranch in Vasser, Idaho. On the ranch she raises beef cattle and chicken and hopes to, one day in the near future, get her ranch certified organic.

The team’s goal was to collect data that would help her better manage her growing ranch. The team spent the week using GPS to take waypoints, videotaping, and taking pictures from every corner of the ranch. Using GPS they mapped such things as the wells, springs, and other water features. They also took many videos of the ranch to document what they saw with plans to link the videos to the finished map. This way Ms. Swanstrom could show her Ranch to anyone in the world. They also used GPS to map the trails, roads, utility boxes, her house, and barns.

Upon her return to the GIS lab, Samantha was tasked with sifting through all the data collected. She spent hours labeling the videos and pictures so she would know which GPS points to hyperlink them to. She also digitized the streams layer, received from the Latah County, Idaho planning office to better fit the aerial imagery. Samantha also linked the forestry plan, given to her by Ms. Swanstrom, to the digitized forest stands. At the beginning of the Fall Semester she received additional help from Dalbir Kaur ’12 and Lisa Jones ’11. Dalbir started digitizing the land use within the Swanstrom Property but soon finished and moved on to the land use of Latah County. Lisa has stepped in to finish hyperlinking videos and pictures and to clean up the rest of the GPS points and other features added to the map. As of October, Ms. Swanstrom received a draft copy of her map which she can view in ArcReader. She plans to use her new mapping tool to come up with a strategic plan for the future development of her ranch.

Daryl Swanstrom & Samantha Bulkilvish ‘09

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