(Geographic Information Systems)
One of the most diverse and specialized branches of the Conservation Department, the GIS staff manages our large geodatabases and uses that information to create and update maps. GIS is a tool that combines spatial information with attribute data. At Philmont, we use our GIS program to create the sectional, overall and campsite maps. Mapping is just the tip of the iceberg, however. The number of public and private entities using GIS for natural resource management is growing rapidly, and the possibilities are almost endless. Each summer the GIS staff takes on new and exciting projects.
Some of their recent work includes mapping of backcountry inner-camp social trail network. These trails could lead to severe erosion problems in the future if not taken care of and by mapping their locations it allows us to see where there is trouble and work to stop it quickly. The GIS staff has also been working on an update of the 2009 Forestry Map and working on mapping the new Heck Tract, which we were just recently given permission to use. Every year, the GIS staff develops a Bear Sighting map, which maps out all bear and mountain lion sightings over the course of one summer. One of their most involved analytical projects is the Philmont Reservoir volume study. Because it was constructed over 40 years ago, the reservoir’s volume has decreased due to siltation and sedimentation, which was transported to the reservoir through the North Fork Uracca watershed. The Maintenance Department came to us at the Conservation Department to see if the GIS staff would be able to help them get an approximate current volume for the reservoir that they may compare to its original volume. After a summer of gathering data and calculation it appeared that the reservoir has lost over 10 acre-feet over the last 40-or-so years.
The GIS staff also works closely with the ROCS and TCT instructors to provide GIS lessons to Roving Outdoor Conservation Crews and Trail Crew Trek participants. These lessons cover topics relating GIS to environmental science, such forest fire prediction, monitoring of invasive species, and hydrological modeling, as well as non-environmental science-related applications.