Grand Canyon National Park Vegetation Mapping Project


Grand Canyon National Park--one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World--is also one of the most spectacular and ecologically diverse parks in the United States. Together with the portions of the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument, the area spans some 1.41 million acres (571,00 ha) of land ranging from less than 1,000 to over 8,000 feet in elevation. Vegetation types vary from sub-alpine spruce-fir forests on the North Rim to warm desert shrublands and warm desert riparian forests along the Colorado River tributaries, and from hanging gardens to ephemeral springs and seeps.

The National Park Service has embarked upon a project to map the composition and distribution of vegetative communities within Grand Canyon National Park and those areas of the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument under the control of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The project is already well underway, with over 2,200 vegetation plot and observation points collected over the last two years.

Kass Green & Associates has been chosen by the National Park Service to use airborne ADS40 imagery, image segmentation, ancillary data, GIS biophysical modeling, photo interpretation, and field visits to map the vegetation of the project area using a National Vegetation Classification Scheme (NVCS) compliant classification scheme . Kass Green & Associates (currently doing business as The Alta Vista Company), is a small woman owned business, specializing in GIS and remote sensing technology transfer, strategic planning, and the semi-automated classification of high resolution imagery.

Joining Kass Green & Associates in this effort are:

  • Sanborn Map Company of Colorado Springs, Colorado has been in business since 1866 and is a full-service company that offers comprehensive remote sensing, photogrammetric mapping and GIS services. Sanborn’s team of over 250 mapping and GIS professionals has decades of experience in all facets of the industry, proven project management skills, and expertise in many database systems and GIS platforms. Sanborn is a worldwide leader in vegetation mapping using remotely sensed data. The company’s experience covers areas on every continent apart from Antarctica. Throughout the company’s history, Sanborn has kept itself on the forefront of automated or semi-automated image processing techniques. One of Sanborn’s strengths is that the company has repeatedly and successfully applied cutting-edge research into a production environment.
  • Far Out Botany of Flagstaff, Arizona specializes in botanical inventory and survey in remote, inaccessible lands of the Southwest. Mr. Glenn Rink, the sole proprietor of Far Out Botany has hiked in nearly all of the Grand Canyon’s backcountry areas and collected and identified plants from many remote areas of Grand Canyon. Far Out Botany has produced plant checklists for four National Park areas in the region and is currently working on checklists for the Kaibab Plateau portion of Grand Canyon National Park and for Surprise Canyon of western Grand Canyon. With this experience, Rink has shown that he can access nearly any part of the Park and identify the plants found in the remote parts of the Park.
  • Fugro EarthData of Frederick, Maryland: With more than 370 employees in offices worldwide, EarthData is one of the largest spatial data organizations in the world, operating a unique suite of airborne sensors and technical processes designed for GIS and mapping applications. EarthData provides a full range of customized mapping products and GIS services to support customers’ needs in natural resource management, urban planning, economic development, national defense, and engineering activities
  • Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) of University of California, Berkeley.  Developed in 2005, the mission of the GIF is to provide access to training, services, and a community that focus on cutting-edge geospatial technology in support of the environmental sciences in both natural and social systems. They aim to build geospatial capacity within natural resources science and management, and to offer innovative approaches to solving complex research problems. GIF clientele includes students, faculty, and staff of the University of California, UC Cooperative Extension, governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and the general public.