Significant accomplishments in outreach

Paul F. Anderson



Studio projects

Class projects. Since 1982, I have directed outreach projects in 49 studios. These projects range from landscape design concepts for the Memorial Union west terrace and Iowa State Center plaza to master plans for United Methodist family camps and Iowa Lakeside Lab at Lake Okoboji. Outreach projects for Landscape Inventory and Analysis (LA 361) typically work with a client in public practice (for example, Iowa DNR, USDA-NRCS, and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation) to assess landscape inventory needs, potential data sources, and interpretations). Outreach projects for Comprehensive Landscape Planning (LA 463) typically work with a client (for example, Iowa DNR and the National Park Service) to develop master planning concepts for a large, multiple-use public or quasi-public facility (such as state forests, state recreation areas, greenbelts, environmental interpretive facilities, tourism facilities, scenic byways, and historical restorations).

The outreach project in LA 361 (spring 1998) was described in a June 1 Des Moines Register editorial by Bill Leonard. The class completed an inventory and suitability study to select sites for the proposed Loess Hills National Park. Over the years, we've had excellent participation from clients who enjoy working with students (and getting valuable ideas from their work). Students benefit by getting practice working in a client relationship. They also benefit by dealing with complex social, economic, and ecological issues raised through discussions with clients.

Loess Hills National Park Site Selection Study for LA 361 (1998)

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Des Moines Register editorial on LA 361 Loess Hills study (1998)


Policy on studio outreach. While I was interim chair of the LA department in 1992, our Practitioners' Advisory Council wanted to address the issue of unfair competition between studio outreach projects and professional practice. Though most practitioners were entirely supportive of studio outreach projects because of their educational value, several PAC members wanted to make sure that students would not usurp potential projects and income of private practitioners. In general, this is not a major concern except when the economy is providing fewer project opportunities (as happened in 1990 through 1994).

Through a series of discussions, we developed a policy that encouraged and supported student involvement in studio outreach (especially at the conceptual level), but cautioned against direct competition through detailed studies and contracts. On the positive side, the policy encouraged practitioners to be involved in student outreach, not only because of its role in professional pro bono responsibilities, but because of the potential for client contacts. Another positive impact of the policy is that it provided the basis for many of the community-based workshops and design charettes that have become an integral part of the LA departments' formal outreach program through the efforts of Julia Badenhope.

Graduate student thesis research

All 16 graduate students who have asked me to serve as chair of their POS committee have selected a topic for their thesis (14 students) or creative component (2 students) that had a significant outreach component.

Some of these were a major contribution to the development of GIS modeling tools and techniques. These include Patrick Brown's thesis (in progress) that provides the USDA Prairie Rivers RC&D with insights into habitat fragmentation in central Iowa and potential land management; Mike Miller's 1995 thesis, Jane Chen's 1998 thesis, and Said Musli's 1999 thesis that provide land managers and researchers with insight into Iowa's historic vegetation (based on US General Land Office surveyors' field notes and maps of 1832-1859); Chris Seeger's 1997 thesis research that demonstrated to the National Park Service the utility of interactive, on-line GIS through the World Wide Web; Shuangyan Li's 1996 thesis that provided the USDA Golden Hills RC&D and Iowa DOT with a variety of GIS descriptive models that provide the basis for delineating the management corridor for the Loess Hills Scenic Byway; Kevin Kane's 1986 thesis research that aided the Iowa DNR in understanding the land cover patterns and changes in the Des Moines River Greenbelt (Kevin also applied his GIS and remote sensing techniques for studying land cover change to the legislative mandate to assess agricultural land use changes throughout Iowa); and Sugeng Gunadi's 1982 creative component report that provided the Surabaya Institute of Technology in East Java, Indonesia with appropriate GIS technology transfer and insights into its use for landscape planning issues such as urban expansion and route selection for new highways.

Other graduate student research was a major contribution to the development of resource planning and management concepts and approaches. These include Keith Holdsworth's 1984 creative component report that provided Madison County officials with strategies to minimize the impact of rural non-farm development on agriculture; Jeff Logsdon's 1995 thesis that became the basis for an EPA grant to support a four-year state-wide effort to develop an Iowa Wetlands and Riparian Areas Conservation Plan (the process involved over 100 people representing local officials, state agencies, federal agencies, ag producer organizations, conservation organizations, developers, and landowners); Marilyn Magnuson's 1997 thesis that explored landscape assessment techniques that the Story County Planning and Zoning Commission and Story County Conservation Board could use to manage visual resources in the county; Dave Wanberg's 1992 thesis research that provided officials of the Iowa Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP) with an assessment of the effectiveness of the county REAP committees (through a mail and telephone survey); Nik Ab. Rahman's 1990 thesis that provided the Hardin County Conservation Board and Iowa DOT with a better understand the environmental impacts of each alternative route for proposed US highway 520 through the Hardin County Iowa River Greenbelt; and Ned Crankshaw's 1988 thesis provided Shimer College officials with a method to construct a plan view base sheet of historical conditions using historical ground-level photographs, photogrammetric principles, and CAD technology.

Of all the graduate student research I have been involved in, Ned's thesis research was perhaps the most brilliant. He was able to successfully integrate interests in historic landscape preservation and restoration, Computer-Aided Design technology, and photogrammetry. Ned's creative mix of art and science in his thesis helped him win the ASLA Certificate of Merit and the Distinguished Master's Thesis Award, Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS).

MLA thesis on reverse perspective analysis by Ned Crankshaw (1988)

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State advisory roles

Because of my expertise in GIS, I have been asked to serve on several state advisory committees.

Governor's State Land Use Advisory Committee. From 1982-1986, I served on the Governor's State Land Use Advisory Committee of the Iowa Inter-Agency Resources Council (1982-1986). My role was to provide technical assistance in implementing the 1982 law requiring counties to inventory local land use changes from 1960 to 1982 and to assess the impacts of those changes on agriculture. I worked with Jim Gulliford, director of the Iowa Department of Soil Conservation (later part of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship), who had responsibilities for implementing the land use law.

I also worked with Stu Huntington (ISU extension specialist in Community and Regional Planning) and Kevin Kane (LA graduate student and ASLA award winner) to prepare a guidebook of recommended procedures for completing the inventories of land use changes and assessments of agricultural impacts. I also attended several local meetings organized by ISU Extension where I explained my recommendations and advised local officials.

Iowa Water Resources Data System Advisory Committee. From 1980 to 1983, I was a member of the Iowa Geological Survey's Water Resources Data System Advisory Committee. My role was to advise IGS (that later became part of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources) on data sources, GIS software, and modeling for monitoring the physical and biological characteristics of the state's water resources.

Natural Resources Geographic Information Systems Advisory Committee. From 1986 through 1993, I served on the Geographic Information Systems Advisory Committee for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. My role was to advise IDNR on GIS database structures, metadata, data sources, hardware, software, and training necessary to integrate GIS technology into IDNR's daily operations. I also assisted in evaluating technical proposals from vendors.

Since that time, IDNR has developed and implemented the most comprehensive Iowa GIS digital database in the state. The Natural Resources Geographic Information System (NRGIS) is available through their World Wide Web pages and FTP site. This on-line database is used regularly by many students, resource professionals, and land managers with whom I work. I use it often in my own teaching, research, and outreach activities. I contributed to the database through my research contracts with IDNR to digitize historic vegetation from US General Land Office surveyors' field notes and township maps. I developed 99 county coverages and one statewide coverage for NRGIS.

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Since 1988, I have served as advisor to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on resource planning issues, implications of land use changes, and GIS technology. Some of my work is with full-time staff including land management and GIS specialist Kyle Swanson, open space planner Lisa Hein, and director Mark Ackelson (all three are graduates of the LA program). I also advise student interns on landscape inventory and analysis projects. Several projects have involved using GIS data and modeling to identify zones ("hot spots") in Iowa where land use changes are occurring rapidly. Through this and other information, INHF staff have been able to increasingly rely on the rational planning process and decreasingly rely on reactionary planning as they conserve, protect, and wisely develop Iowa's natural and cultural resources. This is exemplified by a study to identify priority areas in need of INHF assistance, in which I assisted Alan Mackey, an INHF intern who was a student in Landscape Architecture at the time.

Article on Iowa's "hot spots" for land stewardship by Alan Mackey (1989)

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Iowa Wetlands and Riparian Areas Conservation Plan. For the past four years, I have served on the planning team for the Iowa Wetlands and Riparian Areas Conservation Plan. The other four members are Julia Badenhope (ISU extension specialist in LA), Jim Gulliford (director of the Soil Conservation Division of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship), Ann Robinson (wetlands plan coordinator in the Soil Conservation Division of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship), and Jeff Logsdon (author of the grant proposal to EPA and director of the Dallas County Conservation Board). During two years of the project, Jeff was studying at Harvard University (Loeb Fellowship) and Ann was not yet hired, so Julia and I shared project coordinator duties, even though these duties were not part of our contract (more details below). To develop the conservation plan, we used a participatory process involving over 100 people in over 100 meetings during the four-year period. Representatives of agricultural producers, private landowners, conservation and environmental organizations, land developers, private business, local governments, utilities, and other diverse interests participated and cooperated in creating the final plan. One indication that the consensus-building process was successful is the number of signatories on the plan. We obtained endorsements from EPA, all seven state agencies involved in the planning process, and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. This achievement has increased respect for ISU throughout the state and in Federal agencies.

Iowa Wetlands and Riparian Areas Conservation Plan (1999)

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Iowa Legislative Commission on Urban Planning, Growth Management of Cities, and Protection of Farmland. For the past two years, I have served as a technical advisor to the Commission on Urban Planning, Growth Management of Cities, and Protection of Farmland and its Subcommittee on Farmland Inventories and Farmland Preservation. In October 1997, I testified before the commission at the state capitol. In March 1998, I met with the subcommittee, presented an overview of data and analytical resources, and developed a set of recommendations. The recommendations were developed by an ad hoc advisory team consisting of Gerry Miller (ISU Extension), Jim Gulliford (Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship), and Les Beck (Story County Planning and Zoning Commission). I served as recorder for the team and prepared the recommendations for their review. The recommendations involved a survey of local agricultural land preservation issues, data sources and procedures, and technical issues in measuring the agricultural quality of land converted from agricultural use. 

Based on our recommendations, the Legislative Service Bureau contracted with us to assess statewide trends in agricultural land conversion since 1982 and develop more detailed assessments in seven counties as a pilot study. Our ISU team included two faculty members, three staff members, and nine students. This research was completed November 30, 1998. The research was presented to the commission, which used this research as a basis for a land use bill introduced in the Iowa Senate (Bill 1063).  Incorporated into the bill were our recommendations for land use inventories and monitoring changes, protection of Iowa farmland, and technical assistance to Iowa counties in GIS for land use studies and updating comprehensive land use plans. Involvement of students and county officials in the research was important to integrating teaching, research, and outreach.

Iowa Pilot Land Use Inventory (1998)

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Last update: 12 November 99