Red-cockaded Woodpecker Recovery
Conserving the Nature of America

RCW Foraging Matrix Application

In 1989, the Service published the "Criteria for Defining Foraging Habitat" in the Guidelines for preparation of biological assessments and evaluations for the red-cockaded woodpecker. These guidelines outlined minimum criteria used in determining availability of red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) foraging habitat. Using a matrix approach, personnel at Fort Bragg later automated the comparison of forest inventory data with these foraging guidelines.

With the second revision of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) Recovery Plan in 2003, revised foraging guidelines were established based on a thorough review of available scientific literature. The new guidelines included both a Recovery Standard and a Standard for Managed Stability. The Fort Bragg foraging habitat matrix was revised by the Clemson Field Office to reflect the new guidelines for the Recovery Standard, but no automated process was developed at that time.

On 3 Feb 2004, RCW researchers, managers, and regulators gathered in Southern Pines, NC to review and refine the foraging habitat matrix. A cooperative effort to automate the foraging habitat matrix followed this meeting with the help of Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc (ESRI), Fort Bragg, U.S. Army Environmental Center, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The result of this effort was the original version of the RCW Foraging Matrix Application. This application was the first attempt to standardize foraging habitat evaluation but allow flexibility to adapt the application to different foraging types, as discussed on pages 189-191 of the recovery plan (2003). However, due to the complexity of loading data into the applications data model, functionality flaws and the incompatibility issues recently discovered with ArcGIS 9.2, it was decided that a new and improved version of the matrix application was needed.

In 2007, Intergraph Corporation approached the USFWS with a solution. Keeping in mind the functionality and feel of the old matrix application, a new version was developed using a slightly different approach. The new application is a toolbar that resides in the ArcMap application named 'USFWS Tools'. This toolbar allows the user to perform all of the tasks of the original matrix with the addition of some new tools. It is also compatible with ArcGIS 9.2 and the Microsoft 2.0 .NET framework. The most important addition to this toolbar is the ‘Tool Manager’ command. The Tool Manager allows the user to configure the matrix tool to the users live source GIS data. The user is no longer required to load copies of their stand data into a separate geodatabase with the worries of maintaining this data in different locations on the network. Furthermore, the new matrix application only requires one application maintained layer named 'Matrix_Stands'. The Matrix_Stands layer can reside anywhere on the network and in any geodatabase as long as the user has editing permissions to this layer. What about reports? No more HTML reports that are impossible to print. Now the user has more control over their reports with the help of a Crystal Report viewer.

In October of 2009, the RCW Matrix tool was upgraded by Intergraph to be compatible with ArcGIS 9.3. The toolbar name 'USFWS Tools' was dropped in favor of 'RCW Matrix'. This upgraded version also includes new features like the ability to export an entire report into a single PDF, storing the partition RS and MS scores on the partition feature for labeling and symbology purposes, ability to score one or more stands without a partition polygon, ability to view the data source of a selected source layer in the Tool Manager, better error handling and access to help along with many other enhancements.

In July of 2010, the RCW Foraging Habitat Matrix Application was enhanced again by Intergraph. The RCW Matrix toolbar was updated to include new performance enhancements along with the ability to import/export RCW Matrix user configuration settings. This update also addresses an issue encountered while attempting to save a scoring value for an RS Stands score in the Scoring Options form. The toolbar was reorganized slightly by relocating the 'Tool Manager' and the 'Scoring Options' commands under the new menu item named 'Options'.

The added functionality in this version allows users to import/export RCW Matrix 'Tool Manager' and 'Scoring Options' settings to an XML file for later use. Users have the ability to import these settings on an as-needed basis, particularly after application upgrades, new installs, or while running the RCW Matrix tool on data from multiple sources that requires reconfiguration.

In August of 2011, the RCW Matrix toolbar was upgraded by Intergraph Government Solutions to be fully compatible with ArcMap 10. An ArcMap 9.3 version of the RCW Matrix toolbar is still available for download but will no longer be supported.

Foraging Habitat Matrix

The foraging matrix application includes tools to:

  • Import existing cavity tree or cluster center points
  • Create cluster centers from cavity tree locations
  • Create ¼ and ½ mile partitions from cluster centers
  • Create 200’ cavity tree buffers
  • Create cluster core polygons
  • Evaluate stand and partition data against the Recovery Standard and Standard for Managed Stability
  • Create reports to summarize these evaluations
  • A 'Tool Manager' to configure the matrix to the users source GIS data layers and customize the report cover page

Improved functionality for future iterations of the matrix is already under development and includes:

  • Having a project that does not assume total removal of habitat but rather have the user assign values through an interactive process
  • Having regional defaults set up that could be chosen through the use of a pull-down menu

Use of the Matrix

The Matrix will be used by both the action agency and the Service, along with other tools and analyses, to evaluate the impacts of habitat altering projects on RCW foraging habitat. Matrix results for managed stability standard applications (on private, state, or federal lands) will provide information on whether project impacts will result in the potential for foraging habitat-related "take". Matrix results for recovery standard applications (primarily on federal, but also on state and private lands involved in recovery criteria) will provide information to determine whether, post-project, individual foraging partitions will meet, or retain the future ability to meet, the recovery standard, thereby contributing to the population's recovery goal.

These Matrix analyses, typically in concert with biological assessments or evaluations, will be used by the Service to conduct project reviews when foraging habitat is going to be permanently lost (e.g., to development), temporarily removed (e.g., harvested to be restored), or modified (e.g., thinning). Please refer to the 4 May 2005 foraging habitat guidance memo for additional details on conducting foraging habitat analyses and how the Matrix integrates with that process.

The following items will be included when you download the application:

  • Foraging Matrix application
  • RCW Matrix Tutorial (Acrobat Reader document)
  • Policy memo sent out 4 May 2005 (Acrobat Reader document)
  • Procedures for determining foraging habitat availability (Word document)
  • Midstory example photographs (PowerPoint slideshow)
  • Matrix example analysis (Excel spreadsheet)
  • Evolution of the foraging matrix (PowerPoint slideshow)
  • Example cruise sheet (Excel spreadsheet)

Note: The above items are included in the folder "…\doc" within the install directory. If the default install location is used, these items will be in C:\Program Files\Intergraph\RCW Matrix.

Download Instructions

Last Updated: July 25, 2014