Vegetation Cover Mapping
Development of a baseline vegetation cover map that identifies the different vegetation types on the refuge is necessary in meeting the objectives of the Ecology Goal outlined in the Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). The Ecology Goal states the intent of management is to restore the native mixed-grass prairie ecosystem to the extent possible.
Collection of this information will facilitate evaluation of management alternatives, aid in the prioritization of management alternatives, and contribute to monitoring progress toward achieving CCP objectives. Over time this will enable the refuge to measure on-the-ground changes due to management actions, such as prescribed burning, grazing, rest, invasive species control, and restoration. The information made available through vegetation mapping will also aid in determining whether native warm season grasses or undesirable grasses such as smooth brome are increasing on the refuge landscape over time.
Developing and Collecting Data
Vegetation types are collected by creating polygons with a GPS utilizing ArcPad software. After a day spent in the field creating polygons with the GPS, the data is uploaded into a Geographic Information System (GIS), the main component of that being ArcMap. Once the data is transferred into ArcMap, it is digitized to reflect its designated vegetation type. These newly digitized vegetation polygons are drawn onto an NAIP 2010 aerial photograph that is also uploaded into ArcMap.
Here is an example of a polygon that was created to represent a agricultural field on the refuge.
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This majestic bird of prey can be observed all year at Kirwin. A nesting pair of bald eagles has resided at the Kiln for the past 3 years.