Region 5 GIS Coordination Team Meeting Minutes
Subject: Final Minutes from the October 20 Region 5 GIS Coordination Team Meeting
The second meeting of the Region 5 GIS Coordination Team was held on October 20 in the
Regional Office Auditorium. Linda Shaffer organized and chaired the meeting, which was
attended by the following team members:
Refuge Planning/CCP Group Tom Bonetti
Realty/Acquisition Planning Bill Zinni
Realty/Cartography and Spatial Data Services Linda Shaffer
Fisheries Michelle Babione
Refuge Field Offices Beth Goettel
Coastal Ecosystems Programs Andrew MacLachlan
National Wetlands Inventory Ralph Tiner
Ecological Services Field Offices Kimber Sprankle
Kris LaMontagne (ARD, BF) briefly attended the meeting. Chuck Hayes (Atlantic Coast Joint
Venture) and Norm Olson (Refuge Planning/CCP Group) were unable to attend.
Report on RDT Briefing
On September 20, Linda Shaffer, Andrew MacLachlan, and Michelle Babione updated the
Regional Directorate on GIS coordination activities. The attending Directorate members were
Ralph Pisapia (ARD, ES), Kris LaMontagne (ARD, BF), Sherry Morgan (GARD, N), Dan
Kuzmeskus (for ARD, FR), Spence Conley (ARD, EA), Terry Tarr (ARD, LE), Rick Bennett
(GARD, S and Acting RD), and Bob Sousa (ARD, FA).
The three presenters provided an overview of the need for GIS in the region, the issues discussed
at the GIS coordination meeting last May, and the actions and goals of the GIS Coordination
Team. Their presentation was summarized in a handout (developed by Marci Caplis). A
discussion ensued about standardized data sets, strategic planning for GIS, and the use of the
Service's internal intranet.
At the meeting, the RDT decided to formally endorse the GIS Team and make it a standing
regional committee. They also chose to provide the Team with an RDT mentor (Kris
LaMontagne) to maintain communications and momentum between the GIS Team and the RDT.
A memo resulting from the RDT's decision presented a different list of people for the team than
those that had already been serving on the team. At the October 20 meeting, the GIS Team
pointed this discrepancy out to Kris LaMontagne. The group explained that the R5 GIS
community had chosen specific programs to be represented on the GIS Team. Kris said that the
change in GIS Team volunteers was a misunderstanding, and asked for a memo with our
proposed list so that he can forward our concern to the RDT. Andrew MacLachlan will prepare
Training and Technical Support
Kimber Sprankle, Training and Technical Support (TTS) Subteam Leader, reported that the
Subteam sent a survey to all field stations asking about their needs for GIS training and technical
support. The summary of responses shows that most low-end and medium GIS users think that
existing training is adequate, whereas only about half of high-end users think there is adequate
existing training. The top two reasons were "material not specific to job" and "cost too high".
Most of the low-end users also responded that existing technical support is adequate. However,
about half of the medium and half of the high-end users do not think that existing technical
support is adequate. Respondents indicated that the types of additional support needed include
formally designated tech support offices/GIS service providers and NCTC help desk support.
The TTS Subteam held a conference call in September. Attending were:
Kimber Sprankle (Subteam Leader), New England Field Office
Beth Goettel, Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
Greg Breese, Delaware Bay Estuary Program
Cherry Keller, Chesapeake Bay Estuary Program
Leslie Gerlich, Chesapeake Bay Estuary Program
Kate O'Brien, Great Bay
Rick Schauffler, R5 Realty Cartographic and Spatial Data Services
Marcia McNiff, NCTC
Action items resulting from the meeting include:
1) Develop a list of volunteer GIS support people in R5. Marcia McNiff offered to
maintain the list.
2) Explore the possibility of NCTC holding GIS classes at the Regional Office during the
winter, a time that tends to be more convenient for field people.
3) Hold help sessions where Region 5 GIS practitioners can get together and assist each
other with GIS problems. These could be held in conjunction with the annual R5 GIS
users meeting, NCTC classes held in Region 5, and/or the national USFWS GIS
4) Put the list of GIS support people on the Web; look into creating a R5 GIS list server.
5) Add a day of training onto the R5 GIS users meeting.
The GIS Team discussed who would receive Region 5's free "Authorized Caller" license for
Arc/Info. Under the GIS II contract and NT Desktop contracts, the USFWS receives 10 free
licenses (valued at $500 per year) that provide unlimited telephone technical support for one (and
only one) person. These licenses were originally given to people in small, new GIS facilities,
which resulted in half of the free licenses going to Region 5. This year, however, we were asked
to cut back to one license, so that they could be more evenly distributed.
After some discussion, the group decided that the license should go to Rick Schauffler (R5
Realty), who is a designated Service GIS support person. Linda Shaffer will inform Karen
Theobald (WO ESRI contact) of the choice.
Andrew MacLachlan, Data Issues Subteam Leader, reported that the Subteam had some
discussions about data issues in Region 5, centering around the idea of collecting existing data and
making it available through a regional data clearinghouse/library. People involved in the
Paul Steblein, Forsythe NWR
Chuck Hayes, Atlantic Coast Joint Venture
Linda Shaffer, R5 Realty
Chris Castiglione, Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Resource Office
Gulf of Maine Program
The GIS Team discussed the idea of re-vitalizing the points of contact for each state GIS shop.
These contacts were in place a few years ago, and helped to streamline data access for the Service
and reduce the burden of data requests for the states. It was pointed out that these relationships
can take time and money to nurture, particularly with states that are hesitant to share their data.
Bill Zinni gave the example of the Delaware Bay Estuary Program, who, through years of
purchasing/sharing data and establishing trust, has developed a relationship with the state of
Maryland. These partnerships should be recognized and supported, perhaps through Regional
funds, especially because the entire Service needs them and benefits from them.
Kimber Sprankle mentioned that Bob Houston (ES, GOMP) still serves as a point of contact for
Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Andrew MacLachlan said that he just signed a
contract with New York state to get access to their online data, and has the ID and password if
anyone needs it.
The GIS Team identified three major data needs categories:
1) Base data, which are mostly free, but not usually available at a fine scale
2) State data, which can be at a better scale, may provide different/better information, can
cost money, and is usually not consistent between states (requires processing)
3) Service-specific data, based on Service priorities/needs
Action items for the Data Issues Subteam include:
1) Identify GIS data and sources
2) Develop a library of data for Region 5, and develop a method for distributing the data
4) Re-examine the value of having a Service point of contact for each state
5) Generate suggestions for local GIS data development, printing
Linda Shaffer announced that, in a few weeks, Region 5's library of USGS Digital Raster
Graphics (DRG's scanned topo quads) will be complete. DRG's will be available at the scales of
1:24,000, 1:100,000, and 1:250,000. Some tiles have been edge-matched into a single mosaic for
refuge areas. The Carto shop is also amassing a regional collection of 1:12,000 DOQQ's, and has
a color laser copier available that will copy up to 11x17".
SPOT Image (satellite imagery, France) is now waiving the $100 fee for the USFWS to view their
image library on-line. Contact Linda for the password. SPOT will also provide custom data if
requested (i.e., point their cameras at a natural disaster area).
Election of USFWS Steering Committee Representative
Linda Shaffer volunteered to once again serve as Region 5's representative to the National GIS
Steering Committee. Thank you Linda! The Committee will be meeting next month at the
National USFWS GIS Workshop in Phoenix, Arizona.
Region 5 GIS Workshop Winter of 2000
The GIS Team decided to send out a survey to determine interest in having a R5 GIS users group
workshop this winter. Kimber Sprankle graciously agreed to do the survey. Michelle Babione
volunteered to serve on the workshop committee, should there be a need for one. Some ideas for
the workshop are:
- Offer NCTC GIS training workshops
- Hold a session in which R5 GIS users share expertise to solve technical problems
- Develop lists for GIS support people and state contacts
- Identify data needs and existing data sources, figure out how to share data
Kris LaMontagne, RDT liaison for the GIS Team, joined us for a while. Kris said that he is very
interested and supportive of GIS, and would like to see it used more broadly as a Service tool.
He proposed that the group develop a five-year plan to establish some (~5) standardized data
layers, completing one Ecoregion right away to serve as an example. He encouraged the group
not to feel limited by funding. Kris plans to attend the next GIS Team meeting.
This suggestion generated quite a bit of unresolved discussion about the role of the GIS Team,
CCP's, priority data layers, Ecoteam priorities, the potential use of funding, and GIS outreach to
the RDT. Part of the discussion was about what should the GIS Team plan for and market: new
GIS data development and standardization, regional GIS coordination, and/or the use of GIS to
accomplish Service work (i.e., acres restored, populations increased). This discussion will be
continued at our next meeting.
Linda Shaffer offered to organize and chair the next meeting, which will be Wednesday,
December 8 from 10:00-2:00 at the Regional Office (a conference call if necessary).