Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Series of Tiny Maps

Last year I started working on a series of very small maps for The Wilderness Society. I have made small maps in the past (for example, see 'Biggest Map, Smallest Map'), but this is the first time I've made an entire series of them.

The maps are being placed in fact sheets that TWS is using to communicate with their membership and the larger community about what they are working on in different regions of the country. The maps all need to have a similar look and feel, but the geographies and key features vary tremendously so there have been some interesting cartographic challenges. Overall, it's been a fun project, and I learned a lot about working small. The main lesson:  small maps are much, much harder to make than big ones. To paraphrase Mark Twain:
"I didn't have time to make a small map, so I made a big one instead."
Alaskan Arctic

Northern Forest (New England)

Colorado Plateau

Central Idaho
New Mexico

Northern Rockies

North Cascades (Washington State)


Monday, September 10, 2012

Recent Appearances in Print

CORE GIS maps have appeared in two recently published books. The first is Gretchen Peterson's excellent new cartography manual, Cartographer's Toolkit:  Colors, Typography, Patterns. Last year she asked me if she could include the Marymoor Park map as an example, and I was happy to say yes.

The second publication is this year's edition of the ESRI Map Book (volume 27). Two CORE GIS maps are featured in this one,the California Coast and Greater Puget Sound maps from the Resilient Habitats series I recently completed for the Sierra Club.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Day in the Field

About 99.9% of the work I do takes place in an office or other indoor space. Occasionally, I get the opportunity to go out in the field for ground truthing. Earlier this summer, I had an opportunity to do this on the lower Columbia River for a project I am doing for the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM).

Our ride for the day
In 2009, when the Washington CNLM office was still a part of the Nature Conservancy, I worked on a habitat analysis for the streaked horned lark (as I wrote about on the blog here). The purpose of the current project is to update the analysis with 2011 data and increase the number of sites by a factor of three.

For the original study, I used image segmentation software to classify the vegetation from a combination of scanned and georeferenced photos (black and white, infrared, and some true color) as well as true color NAIP orthophotos. For the current study, I am using 2011 near-IR NAIP with ArcGIS to produce supervised and unsupervised vegetation classifications.

The scale of the dredging/deposition operation is massive
The dredging barge in the channel
I produced draft classifications for three islands and met my CNLM project manager in Cathlamet to get on an Environ boat to tour the islands. Environ is a consultant to the Port of Portland's dredging operations and we were able to tag along with them to gather our field data.

For the ground-truthing I used my Android phone in conjunction with an app called Locus Pro. It worked really well for gathering GPS data with geo-tagged photos so I could take a point and a photo then load it into ArcGIS afterwards (as a KML) to assess the accuracy of the draft classification. It was extremely helpful to be standing on the islands while holding the draft map because I gained a much clearer sense both of the fine differences between classes and also the sometimes surprising differences between what a class looks like on an image and what it looks like on the ground. And we even saw a few larks!

Moss/lichen vegetation

Formerly 'Larky' habitat invaded by Scotch broom

Taking a point

Taking another point (in a very scenic location!)
It was a long day, but extremely productive, and I spent the drive back to Seattle thinking of ways to integrate more field work into my GIS projects!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


It should have been easier to find this link to the USGS NAIP orthoimagery WMS!!

I found the info here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Resilient Habitats in the Central Gulf Ecoregion

Over the past couple of years I have created a series of maps for the Sierra Club's Resilient Habitats campaign. These are always fun to work on, and I particularly enjoy getting to map new geographies, such as the Gulf Coast. This map is formatted for use in a PowerPoint presentation, and it may be transformed into a large format version at some point.