Wisconsin Geospatial News

Few aerial photography plans this spring

As compared to an average year, we are expecting less aerial photography to be acquired over Wisconsin this spring. But then, there may be no such thing as an average year.

Plans are afoot for some major projects next spring, as is traditional with five-year cycles anchored to the federal census compiled at the start of each decade. So, 2004 being the year before a major acquisition year, it isn’t surprising that the number of flights will be on the low side.

In addition to these projects covering substantial areas, there may be some smaller area projects (e.g., covering cities) of which we are not yet aware.

Isolated projects this spring

Several projects are underway this spring including counties: St. Croix, Oconto, Dunn and Jefferson. Of note, the Jefferson County project, which covers only the northern half of the county, involves the use of LIDAR, an airborne laser imaging system, to build a terrain model. None of these projects includes the use of a digital camera.

Summer 2004 plans changing

While spring is the standard season for mapping related photography projects, summer flights are usually related to natural resources or agriculture. One planned project for 2004 is in flux while another has emerged.

It now appears that no NAIP imagery will be acquired over Wisconsin this summer. Earlier plans that would have brought this USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) program to our state for the first time have floundered due to federal budget uncertainties. Larry Cutforth of the Wisconsin FSA office is working to develop a coalition to jointly fund a 2005 statewide acquisition. Details on timing (ie. when during the growing season, etc.), film or sensor type (color and/or colorIR?), resolution (better than 1-meter?), etc. will not be known for some time.

A more specialized project is planned for July. It will acquire low-altitude (1:8000-scale) imagery over the Lake Michigan coastline (primarily over the near-shore lake bed) to inventory lakebed vegetation that is thought to be flourishing due increased sunlight penetration. Increased light levels are believed to be a consequence of both low water levels as well as improved water clarity resulting from filtering by zebra mussels.