- GLO Vegetation
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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
- What portions of Dallas County are most suitable for sand and gravel
- 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.
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
- Raccoon River Greenbelt GIS
- 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.
Site GIS Predictive Modeling
- 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.
- 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
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.
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.
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
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).
Work on implementation has begun
in the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and
in other state and federal agencies.