Wisconsin Geospatial News

Field collection underway for Wiscland 2 project

The fieldwork season has begun to complete the samples database for the Wiscland-2 land cover mapping project!  Wiscland 2 is a joint project between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison State Cartographer’s Office (SCO) to map the current land cover across the state of Wisconsin.  This is intended as an update to the currently available Wiscland 1 map, which was created in the 1990s.  Wiscland 2 officially started in May 2014 and the completion date of the project is June 2016.  Since the previous quarterly report in April 2015, much of the effort has been focused on tools to assist in the field collection process.

After gathering up existing field data from Department of Natural Resources (DNR) projects and other agencies, we were able to pull almost a half million land cover samples for the map classification. We also used high-resolution aerial imagery to photo-interpret land cover for classes that are identifiable from air photos – namely urban areas, water bodies, and barren land like sand and exposed rock. Lastly, we reviewed field data collected as part of the original Wiscland-1 efforts and verified that nearly 20,000 points (approximately half of the samples) were still under the same land cover and are suitable to use for training or validation data in this project.

Even so, the sample data is sparse in some areas of the state for several of the land cover classes included in the Wiscland-2 classification scheme. To round out the training/validation data, field samples are being collected through a field campaign headed by the DNR. Ten Field Technicians have been brought on for the summer and are traveling the state to identify and collect GPS locations and ecological information with the aid of a DNR field mentor stationed in their collection region.  SCO assisted in preparing the Field Technicians for completing this important field collection task by drafting training materials and facilitating training sessions regarding the use of LCFR and the Status applications, photo-interpretation methods, and the history, scope, and importance of the Wiscland 2 project.

Using a combination of field visits, photo-interpretation, and local knowledge of their region, the Field Technicians have approximately 3 months to collect all of the additional points needed for the project.  To aid the information transfer from the field to the samples database here at the SCO, we have developed a field reporting application, the Land Cover Field Reporter (LCFR), where DNR staff can submit their field data online. Using 1- and 2-meter resolution National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) imagery, Field Technicians can digitize the field sites they visited on-screen in the application, fill in attribute data about the site, and submit it directly into the database.

After only three weeks in the field, Field Technicians have submitted nearly 4,000 sample points. Thanks to their hard work and the web submission tool, these points are already being used in the first rounds of map classifications. High-quality training data is one of the key requirements of a high-quality land cover map, so we look forward to continuing to see data flow in over the upcoming months!

For the latest project information, be sure to visit the Wisconsin Land Cover Project Page and our most recent quarterly report to DNR.

The Wiscland 2 project is a cooperative effort between UW-Madison and the Wisconsin DNR, with funding from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, grant #W‐160‐P‐25.