The Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) is a multi-disciplinary research and development center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Organizationally, FORT is within the USGS Southwest Region, although our work extends across the Nation and into several other countries. FORT research focuses on needs of the land- and water-management bureaus within the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), other Federal agencies, and those of State and non-government organizations. As a Science Center, we emphasize a multi-disciplinary science approach to provide information for resource-management decisionmaking. FORT’s vision is to maintain and continuously improve the integrated, collaborative, world-class research needed to inform effective, science-based land and resource management. Our science and technological development activities and unique capabilities support all USGS scientific Mission Areas and contribute to successful, collaborative science efforts across the USGS and DOI. We organized our report into an Executive Summary, a cross-reference table, and an appendix. The executive summary provides brief highlights of some key FORT accomplishments for each Mission Area. The table cross-references all major FY2012 and FY2013 science accomplishments with the various Mission Areas that each supports. The one-page accomplishment descriptions in the appendix are organized by USGS Mission Area and describe the many and diverse ways in which our science is applied to resource issues. As in prior years, lists of all FY2012 and FY2013 publications and other product types also are appended.
In order to better understand and protect species with minimal or decreasing populations, it is imperative to determine their actual existing population size. The focal species for this project is the Gunnison sage-grouse (GUSG), which became a proposed endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, thus confirming the need for better population estimates. Lek site counting during mating season has historically been the primary method for estimating population size since the grouse are very difficult to count at other times of the year. The objective of this project was to use historical data and available technology to identify additional potential lekking sites. This was done by determining areas throughout the study area that have the same landscape characteristics as those where known lekking activities occur. More accurate population counts could be the outcome of locating more lek sites.
One of the remaining seven GUSG populations, the Crawford population (estimated at 128 individuals) exists in an area that includes the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and the northern portion of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (our study area). While the Crawford population is small, it is still considered a self-sustaining population; the persistence and growth of this population directly contribute to genetic diversity conservation of this declining species. To date, only observational and anecdotal information about the Crawford population’s range, movements, and seasonal habitat use exist.
From 1978 to the present, GUSG population monitoring has been accomplished through annual lek counts conducted each spring during GUSG mating season. Although this method has provided information on GUSG population trends, it is somewhat limited because counts are based only on known lekking sites and historically minimal efforts have been made to identify additional lek sites. To meet the objective of locating more potential lekking sites, we used a suite of spatial data, geographic information system tools, and maximum entropy species distribution tools. Based on expert knowledge and landscape variables, the modeling process evolved into a hybrid approach for delineating areas that would have a significant probability for supporting GUSG lekking activities. Based on model results, a sampling protocol was developed for model verification. The results of this project provide wildlife managers with a more sophisticated methodology to evaluate GUSG habitat for potential lekking sites.
Interactive Energy Atlas for Colorado and New Mexico: An online resource for decision-makers and the public [Science Feature]
Carr, N.B., N. Babel, J. Diffendorfer, D. Ignizio, S. Hawkins, N. Latysh, K. Leib, J. Linard, and A. Matherne
In order to balance the benefits of energy development with the potential consequences for ecosystems, recreation, and other resources, managers and other decision-makers need geospatial data on existing energy development and energy potential that is accessible and usable for evaluating tradeoffs among resources, comparing development alternatives, or quantifying cumulative impacts. To allow for a comprehensive evaluation among different energy types, an interdisciplinary team of USGS scientists has developed an online Interactive Energy Atlas for Colorado and New Mexico. The purpose of the EERMA Interactive Energy Atlas is to facilitate access to geospatial data related to energy resources, energy infrastructure, and natural resources that may be affected by energy development. The Atlas is designed to meet the needs of varied users, including GIS analysts, resource managers, policymakers, and the public, who seek information about energy in the western United States.
Interactive Energy Atlas for Colorado and New Mexico [Website]
Carr, N.B., N. Babel, J. Diffendorfer, S. Hawkins, D. Ignizio, N. Latysh, K. Leib, J. Linard, and A.M. Matherne
The Energy and Environment in the Rocky Mountain Area (EERMA) project is composed of interdisciplinary U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists working to provide land management agencies and decision makers with synthesized information and comprehensive, virtual tools to promote understanding of the trade-offs of energy development. The purpose of the Interactive Energy Atlas is to provide data and decision support tools to visualize and assess the potential effects of energy development on terrestrial/hydrological resources at multiple scales...
Utilizing Remote Sensing and GIS to Detect Prairie Dog Colonies
The locations of black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus [Ord]) colonies on a 550-km2 study site in northeastern Wyoming, United States, were estimated using 3 remote sensing methods: raw satellite imagery (Landsat 7 ETMþ), enhanced satellite imagery (integration of imagery with thematic layers via a Geographic Information System), and aerial reconnaissance (observations taken from a small plane). A supervised classification of the raw satellite imagery yielded an overall accuracy of 64.4%, relative to ground-truthed locations of prairie dog colonies. The enhanced satellite imagery, resulting from a filtering of the data based on an index derived from the sum of weighted ecological factors associated with prairie dog colonies (slopes, land cover, soil, and ‘‘greenness’’ via the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) yielded an overall accuracy of 69.2%. The aerial reconnaissance method provided 65.1% accuracy. The highest rate of false positives resulted from the aerial reconnaissance method (39.9%). The highest rate of false negatives resulted from the raw satellite imagery (60.0%), a value that was markedly reduced via the enhancement with ecological data from thematic layers (45.8%). Given the accuracy, interpretability of results, repeatability, objectivity, cost, and safety, the enhanced satellite imagery method is the recommended approach to large-scale detection of black-tailed prairie dog colonies. If a greater accuracy is required, this method can be employed as a coarse filter to narrow the scale and scope of a more costly and laborious fine-scale analysis effectively.
Fort Collins Science Center FY2011 Accomplishments Report
The Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) is a multi-disciplinary research and development center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) located in Fort Collins, Colo. Organizationally, FORT is within the USGS Rocky Mountain Area, although our work extends across the Nation and into several other countries. FORT research focuses on needs of the land- and water-management bureaus within the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), other Federal agencies, and the needs of State and non-government organizations. As a Science Center, we emphasize a multi-disciplinary science approach to provide information for resource-management decisionmaking. FORT’s vision is to maintain and continuously improve the integrated, collaborative, world-class research needed to inform effective, science-based land management. Our innovative scientists and technical specialists accomplish this mission in two fundamental ways:
We build teams across USGS centers and Federal agencies.
Resource management decisions and planning processes require a broad range of biological, ecological, and economic analyses and often must consider a landscape or ecoregional perspective that involves multiple Federal and State agencies and often university and private partners. Our Center has a long history of addressing resource management and planning issues, leveraging shared data and expertise across centers and agencies. This collaborative work has been recognized through three consecutive DOI “Partners in Conservation” awards and our selection as the host site for the USGS John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis.
We provide interdisciplinary science support and Information Technology infrastructure that facilitates integrated and collaborative research.
Advanced Information Technology (IT) and data capabilities at FORT include the Resource for Advanced Modeling laboratory, high throughput and high performance computing resources, and easily accessible libraries of large geospatial datasets. Our Center is also piloting for USGS a number of cutting-edge technologies that could dramatically lower IT costs and improve performance, such as network optimization tools and virtualization. These services provide support to as many as 14 working groups per year for the Powell Center, in addition to new levels of data management and analysis for our own scientists. With an interdisciplinary science staff from several USGS science centers, we are located within the Natural Resource Research Center campus at Colorado State University, where there are more than 1,000 natural resource professionals from six Federal agencies.
Our science and technological development activities and unique capabilities support all six USGS scientific Mission Areas and contribute to successful, collaborative science efforts across the USGS and DOI. This year, we have organized our annual report into an Executive Summary with an appendix of 70 science accomplishments. These one-page accomplishment descriptions are organized by USGS Mission Area. As in prior years, lists of all FY2011 publications and other product types also are appended.
This executive summary of our annual report provides brief highlights of a few key FORT accomplishments for each Mission Area, along with a table cross-referencing all major FY11 accomplishments with the various Mission Areas each supports. I hope you will also peruse the accomplishment descriptions in Appendix 1, as they describe the many and diverse ways in which the “rubber meets the road” here at FORT.
Locations and attributes of utility-scale solar power facilities in Colorado and New Mexico, 2011
The data series consists of polygonal boundaries for utility-scale solar power facilities (both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power) located within Colorado and New Mexico as of December 2011. Attributes captured for each facility include the following: facility name, size/production capacity (in MW), type of solar technology employed, location, state, operational status, year the facility came online, and source identification information.
Facility locations and perimeters were derived from 1-meter true-color aerial photographs (2011) produced by the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP); the photographs have a positional accuracy of about ±5 meters (accessed from the NAIP GIS service: http://gis.apfo.usda.gov/arcgis/services).
Solar facility perimeters represent the full extent of each solar facility site, unless otherwise noted. When visible, linear features such as fences or road lines were used to delineate the full extent of the solar facility. All related equipment including buildings, power substations, and other associated infrastructure were included within the solar facility. If solar infrastructure was indistinguishable from adjacent infrastructure, or if solar panels were installed on existing building tops, only the solar collecting equipment was digitized. The “Polygon” field indicates whether the "equipment footprint" or the full “site outline” was digitized. The spatial accuracy of features that represent site perimeters or an equipment footprint is estimated at +/- 10 meters. Facilities under construction or not fully visible in the NAIP imagery at the time of digitization (December 2011) are represented by an approximate site outline based on the best available information and documenting materials. The spatial accuracy of these facilities cannot be estimated without more up-to-date imagery – users are advised to consult more recent imagery as it becomes available. The “Status” field provides information about the operational status of each facility as of December 2011.
This data series contributes to an Online Interactive Energy Atlas developed by the U.S. Geological Survey. The Energy Atlas synthesizes data on existing and potential energy development in Colorado and New Mexico and includes additional natural resource data layers. This information may be used by decision makers to evaluate and compare the potential benefits and tradeoffs associated with different energy development strategies or scenarios. Interactive maps, downloadable data layers, metadata, and decision support tools are included in the Energy Atlas. The format of the Energy Atlas facilitates the integration of information about energy with key terrestrial and aquatic resources for evaluating resource values and minimizing risks from energy development activities.