• GLO Vegetation GIS Maps
  • GIS Modeling of GLO Soil Classification
  • Site Suitability Modeling for Sand and Gravel Extraction
  • Land use in Iowa: 1983-1998
  • Archaeological site modeling in Camp Dodge
  • Raccoon River Greenbelt GIS Modeling
  • Archaeological Site GIS Predictive Modeling
  • Loess Hills Scenic Byway Database
  • EPA Floodplain GIS Modeling
  • Iowa Wetlands and Riparian Areas Conservation Plan

    GLO Vegetation GIS Maps
    GLO Project Logo
    This research for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is producing a GIS data layer from 1832-1859 General Land Office township plat maps of Iowa. Historic vegetation patterns are mapped digitally in AutoCAD format DWG files and PC Arc/Info coverages. DNR has placed these 99 Arc/Info county coverages on their anonymous FTP (ftp.igsb.uiowa.edu) and NRGIS file server. A preliminary version of the statewide coverage is currently available from Kevin Kane's FTP server (k2.gis.iastate.edu) and the ISU GIS Facility PC database . Our research project was described in a Des Moines Register newspaper article by Larry Stone.

    The final report for the research is available here on-line. The on-line report includes 142 pages of text, illustrations, tables, and maps. It's in Acrobat PDF format. To read the file, you must have Acrobat Reader and WebLink plug-in on your computer (they (except the computer) are available free from www.adobe.com). Local information about Acrobat and PDF files is available from ISU Extension. You must also configure your Web browser to activate Acrobat Reader as the viewer for PDF files. If you've done all that and you want the report in PDF format, you can download the main report (approximately 750 Kbytes), the appendices (approximately 1,225 Kbytes), or an example of a county map (Poweshiek) (approximately 93 Kbytes) from the report. GLO vegetation maps of other counties are also available. PDF_icon

    In related research, recent graduate Mike Miller analyzed GLO historic vegetation data for Fayette and Jackson Counties in Iowa. Mike used GIS descriptive modeling and statistical measures to help describe vegetation categories mapped by some of the 187 deputy surveyors in Iowa. You can access some of Mike's MLA thesis through his home page.

    New research is developing optical character recognition (OCR) scanning methods to convert the GLO surveyors' field notes to digital form. The new research also involves designing a database structure and queries to aid researchers, historians, and resource managers in interpreting and analyzing the content of the GLO surveyors' field notes. Jane Chen's MLA thesis is part of this research. Support for the project comes from Dallas County Conservation Board and Iowa State University. Luke Sling's MS thesis in the Water Resources program is also part of this research. Support for his project comes from the Department of Landscape Architecture.  As part of his research, Luke developed an ArcIMS site as a model for digital access to the surveyors' field notes.

    For more information, go to our Web page specifically on this GLO Vegetation GIS project.  Also, visit our new GLO Research Web site.

    GIS Modeling of GLO Soils Classification
    This research used GIS descriptive modeling to define soil ratings (1st rate, 2nd rate, 3rd rate) used by General Land Office deputy surveyor John Evans in Franklin Township (T80N R22W), Polk County, Iowa.  In Franklin Township, the most productive areas (by modern standards) were described by Evans in September, 1847, as 3rd rate and the least productive areas were described as 1st rate.  The poorly drained pothole soils of the 3rd rate area presented an obstacle to pioneer agriculture not removed by drainage technology until a half century later.  Perhaps the lack of timber and water also made the 3rd rate area unsuitable in Evans' view.  
    In contrast, 1st rate soils were relatively close to timber, groves, and the South Skunk River.  However, 1st rate soils were located somewhat in upland areas, but primarily in floodplain areas.  Also, 1st rate soils were located in areas with a range of drainage characteristics:  poorly-, moderately-, and well-drained.  The seven fields mapped by Evans seem quite suitable for agriculture by both GLO standards and modern standards.  All were located in 1st rate areas, close to timber and grove.  The fields ranked quite high in all three modern measures of agricultural suitability (CSR, ECY, and USDA Prime Farmlands).  The first 14 parcels sold to 5 buyers by the GLO land office (on October 30, 1848) have characteristics quite similar to the seven fields, with two exceptions:  (1) the first parcels sold have a much higher mean slope than the fields and (2) the first parcels sold have a much lower mean CSR and mean ECY than the fields.  A more complete description and results of the study are included as part of our new GLO Research Web site.


    Site Suitability Modeling for Sand and Gravel Extraction
    This research for the Dallas County Board of Supervisors provided a demonstration of GIS modeling to guide the location, planning, and management of proposed sand and gravel operations.  Over 50 map models were developed with input from county officials, mine operators, and an ISU Extension advisory committee.  Spatial questions answered in the site suitability modeling included the following:
    What portions of Dallas County are most suitable for sand and gravel extraction?
    Are areas most suitable in different locations according to residents, mine operators, and county officials?
    When modeling diverse suitability criteria, are there areas that all agree are most suitable?
    County officials are using the GIS database and modeling results to develop their own suitability models to evaluate applications for mining permits and review environmental effects of land use changes.
    Land Use in Iowa: 1983-1998
    This research for the Iowa Commission on Urban Planning, Growth Management, and Protection of Farmland examined issues of urban sprawl vs. compact growth, land use changes, changes from agricultural use, and agricultural quality of land converted from agriculture. The study included documentation of land use changes throughout the state since 1986. More detailed study of seven pilot counties use GIS technology to quantify land use changes and agricultural quality of individual land parcels. More complete results of the study are described in the final report, executive summary, and poster.


    Archaeological site modeling in Camp Dodge
    This research for the Iowa National Guard developed GIS predictive models to help manage cultural resources of Camp Dodge Military Reservation (Johnston, Iowa), an area of 4,500 acres (1,820 hectares). Seven predictive models of archaeological site location were based on physical, natural, and cultural characteristics of the Camp Dodge area, knowledge of prehistoric peoples that occupied the region, digital GIS database, results of archaeological field surveys, and statistical techniques and geographic functions. Predictive models were developed using Boolean logic, environmental diversity (catchments), and map arithmetic approaches.
    Areas of high potential shown on the individual map models ranged from 0 to 359 acres (145 hectares, 8.0 percent of Camp Dodge). Some of these high potential areas had been surveyed by field archaeologists, who found no archaeological evidence. One area of substantial agreement on the map models totaled 50 acres (20 hectares). Because this area was not surveyed by the field archaeologists in their sample, one recommendation of the study was to survey the area of high potential as a form of model validation. Results of the predictive models are being used to help site managers (1) plan the location and type of training activities and (2) assess the degree of risk to cultural resources by training activities. Based on our research recommendations, I submitted a proposal for additional research to the National Guard Bureau under the Legacy Grant Program.  The proposal has passed initial Department of Defense reviews and is awaiting final approvals.


    Raccoon River Greenbelt GIS Modeling
    dallasg5.gif (15285 bytes)This research for the Dallas County Conservation Board provided a GIS database with 11 data layers in raster data format for a study area of over 200 square miles. We also produced a variety of GIS descriptive models and predictive models used as (1) educational background information for a series of eight public meetings with landowners and local residents and (2) resource assessments for the master planning consultant who prepared a resource and recreation master plan for the Greenbelt.


    Archaeological Site GIS Predictive Modeling
    arc3redf.gif (9725 bytes)This research for the Dallas County Conservation Board produced GIS maps used by archaeologists to locate additional archaeological sites in southern Dallas County. Criteria for GIS predictive models were developed (1) by the staff of the State Archaeologist's Office in Iowa City and (2) through GIS descriptive modeling and statistical measures comparing known archaeological sites with a random sample of sites in the study area.

    The final report for Phase 2 of the research is available here on-line. The report is 44 pages of text, graphs, tables, and GIS maps. To get the report in PDF format (about 425 Kbytes), just click here. One caution about the graphics: colors were optimized for printing, not for monitors. PDF_icon


    Loess Hills Scenic Byway Database
    This research for Golden Hills RCandD and NRCS is assisting in developing a GIS database and models for their Loess Hills Scenic Byway corridor management plan. The database is planned to include over 40 data layers covering a 7-county region in western Iowa.

    3dview1.gif (27907 bytes)In related research, Shuangyan Li used GRASS/GIS to model the spatial implications of three different definitions of scenic byway corridor. Shuangyan applied statistical measures and GIS descriptive modeling techniques to assess landscape visual quality and to compare different methods of estimating the viewshed of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway. Shuangyan's research resulted in a thesis for her MLA degree.


    EPA Floodplain GIS Modeling
    This research is helping Golden Hills RCandD in Oakland, Iowa develop new GIS technology to assist local officials and land managers in making decisions about floodplain lands. EPA funded Golden Hills RCandD to study alternative land uses and management in floodplains to minimize future flood damages. The GIS delivery system incorporates image editing software to overlay raster GIS maps on an aerial photo background for presentation.

    We're helping Golden Hills RCandD provide GIS interpretive maps to local land owners, managers, and public officials, who use the maps to make decisions about land use and management in floodplains. Aldo Leopold had some words of wisdom about this subject. At the beginning of the project, Golden Hills RCandD staff members Marty Braster and Gregg Hadish interviewed potential local users of GIS information, who preferred that GIS results be presented on an air photo background, similar to USDA county soil survey map atlas sheets. Some people in GIS and digital cartography call these combinations of GIS maps and aerial imagery image maps.

    694101cs.gif (95026 bytes)Potential local users that we interviewed preferred to have a fast point and click system with pre-stored (canned) GIS interpretive maps that would help them make decisions about floodplain land use and management. Early in our project, this approach came to be called a GIS Reference System. We started creating our GIS Reference System by scanning 108 USDA farm program compliance slides that cover our 188 square mile study area in Fremont County. We used a software package called Transformer to change the geometry of the air photos to match the GIS maps. GIS maps made with GRASS/GIS were layered on top of the air photo background using Adobe Photoshop, then placed in Adobe Acrobat files for distribution to local officials and land managers.

    Additional research involves GIS modeling to locate potential wetland sites for conservation, restoration, or enhancement. GIS descriptive modeling compares 24 biophysical characteristics of 19 existing wetland sites with characteristics of a random sample of 313 non-wetland sites in the Fremont County study area. Three statistical measures (Chi square, cumulative percentage, and coefficient of areal correspondence (CAC)) help identify which of the 24 biophysical variables are most significant for predictive modeling. GIS predictive modeling uses a "map arithmetic" approach to compute numerical scores for each part of the study area based on Chi square measures and an expert scoring system. After predictive modeling results are mapped, a technique called logit modeling measures the improvement in predictive power of the model(s) over random chance selection of potential wetland sites.


    Iowa Wetlands and Riparian Areas Conservation Plan
    College of Design faculty members and students are participating in a project to prepare an Iowa Wetland and Riparian Area Conservation Plan. The primary purpose of the plan is to guide preservation and enhancement of riparian and wetland areas in Iowa. The conservation plan will assist conservation agencies and organizations in efficiently managing riparian and wetland programs and policies.

    Participating in the project are faculty members Julia Badenhope (Landscape Architecture and Extension) and Paul Anderson (Landscape Architecture and Agronomy) and students Dana Watson (Animal Ecology), Chengqian Yin (Community and Regional Planning), Julie Anderson (English), Tony Bremholm (Art and Design), Andrew Hug (Animal Ecology), David Thomson (Landscape Architecture), Rachael Bender (Landscape Architecture), and Kevin Lyles (Landscape Architecture). In a related study, Kevin and I completed an analysis of media coverage of wetlands and riparian issues.

    Support for the project is from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and Iowa State University through a grant proposal written by Jeff Logsdon, adjunct assistant professor in Landscape Architecture. Jeff's MLA thesis, "Development of an Iowa Planning Model for the State Wetland and Riparian Area Plan," provided the structure and approach for the plan.

    Also participating in the planning project are representatives of nine state agencies, four federal agencies, local agencies, conservation organizations, landowners, wetland experts from state universities, and other interested individuals. The planning process involves input from all these groups, a wetlands and riparian area planning conference, development of goals and implementation strategies, recommendations, report writing, and project review. The planning process was completed in 1998. Results are described in the final report and summary brochure (PDF file 935 Kbytes).PDF_icon Work on implementation has begun in the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and in other state and federal agencies. 


    Paul Anderson's home page

    Last update: 17 September 2008