GIS Mapping & Analysis

GIS has become an invaluable tool for natural resource investigations and is an important component of all our studies.  We utilize GIS to quantify and map ecological resources; track populations of rare plants, noxious weeds, and wildlife; and for environmental impact analysis.  In addition, our team has the expertise to perform advanced geospatial analyses including watershed assessments, floodplain inundation mapping, 3D animations, and viewshed analysis.



Resource Mapping & Environmental Impact Assessment

GIS allows us to map ecological resources and population densities, then create geospatial databases to track these resources, precisely calculate areas, and identify setbacks and buffers. Using GPS units, we mark the locations of wetlands, rare plants, and other sensitive resources in the field, then import the data into GIS to create habitat maps on either a topographic or aerial imagery base map.   The resulting datasets provide the basis for quantifying impacts to ecological resources as a part of environmental impact analysis.

Rare plant survey map prepared in GIS.


GIS also facilitates our long-term ecological monitoring studies.  Using GPS units, we mark specific locations in the field, then import these points into GIS to track changes over time, through both quantitative monitoring on the project site and through analysis of aerial imagery. We also utilize GIS to map and monitor populations of noxious weeds, to track treatment areas, and to monitor the effectiveness of integrated weed management techniques.

Vegetation Monitoring Transect Locations for a Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse Habitat Conservation Bank.

Watershed Assessment

Watershed assessments are an important tool for stream restoration planning and for evaluating the effects of land use changes.  GIS allows us to precisely delineate the watershed of a given project area with detailed topographic data.  Publicly available datasets for land use, land cover and soil types are integrated into the analysis to help define watershed characteristics.  These data allow us to track changes in watershed characteristics over time, such as temporal changes of impervious area and deforestation.  The resulting watershed data can be used in a rainfall-runoff analysis to determine both peak runoff flow rates and volumes for hydraulic modeling and to quantify the effects of urbanization.  In addition, by digitizing  channel alignments from historic aerial imagery, we can evaluate channel migration over time to develop a more complete understanding of the connection between the watershed  and its river network.

Watershed Map by Kurt Smithgall

Floodplain Inundation Mapping

Using GIS, we produce detailed maps of floodplain inundation for project assessment and land use planning.  We import HEC-RAS data into GIS to produce detailed visualizations of flood inundation area, water depth, and flow velocity.  Because we utilize more detailed topographic data, we can evaluate the accuracy of FEMA floodplain maps and identified flood risk zones and can follow up with a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) to remove properties from the risk zones when appropriate.  Floodplain inundation mapping is also useful for creating conceptual design plans for stream restoration projects.

3D Animations

3D Animations are an advanced method used to visualize complex geospatial data.  These 3D visualizations give a perspective view of the terrain area of interest and are especially useful for watershed analysis.

3D animation of a watershed by Kurt Smithgall.

Viewshed Analysis

Potential impacts to viewsheds are a part of many land use approvals.  Our team utilizes GIS to evaluate visual impacts from key locations considering the site topography and distance.