Dave Mogk, Montana State University
As an instructor in Environmental Geology, I would like to do a comprehensive class project on historical land use patterns in our county. This will be part of a service-learning exercise where the students will access and render land use data to make a public report to county land use planners, developers and commissioners. A variety of data will be needed: USGS digital elevation, geologic, soil, and hydrologic maps; historical and recent air photo coverage; other historical photographic records of development in the area; multi-spectral Landsat, SPOT, and AVIRIS satellite imagery; county zoning maps; habitat maps (e.g. winter and calving ranges for elk); and US Census data for the last century. All of these data should be downloaded into a common GIS-based database, the information should be able to be presented on common spatial scales, and students should be able to do a series of overlays to see the relations between physical and cultural features over time. Analytical tools are needed to allow the students to measure changes in land use pattern such as net loss or gain of forest lands, wetlands, agricultural lands; changes in surface water patterns (e.g. channelization, new irrigation ditches); changes in habitat for select species (endangered, large mammals, etc.). Analysis of these land use patterns will result in a report that makes recommendations for areas where development or preservation may be the best policy; protection of surface and aquifer water supplies is needed; alerts about natural hazards (e.g. flooding, slope instability, wildfire, etc.) are made available to the public.
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