Friday, August 18, 2017

Using Remote Sensing to Measure Riparian Buffers

My mini project this summer was to use remote sensing to look at riparian buffers in Wilson Creek and the Annis Creek Watershed. Remote sensing is the science of obtaining information about an object without being physically near that object. Riparian buffers is a strip of natural vegetation along the side of waterways that are meant to keep sediment and pollutants out of them.    

The Wilson Creek and Annis Creek Watershed is an area of 46,946 acres. By comparing, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Cropland Data Layer (CDL) map and the Department of Natural Resources‘ Wiscland map to the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP) imagery, I analyzed how many acres of riparian buffer each watershed has, as well as the amounts of properties that have riparian buffers around Wilson Creek and Annis Creek.

In order to compare Wiscland and the CDL to the NAIP imagery, 300 random points where generated within 30 meters on either side of both creeks. My interpretation of what the NAIP imagery showed in the 300 points was compared to what the CDL and Wiscland data layers showed. CDL had an accuracy rate of 62% and Wiscland had an accuracy rate of 61% for riparian buffers. Therefore, we can be about 60% certain that the Wilson Creek Watershed has 1547 out of 2,526 acres of riparian buffer. Annis Creek Watershed has 378 out of 1,059 acres of riparian buffer.  We can also be 60% certain that out of 651 properties that contain Wilson Creek, 145 properties have a 30 meter riparian buffer, 411 properties have the presence of a buffer and 95 properties are not buffered. Out of 267 properties containing Annis Creek, there are 20 properties that have a 30 meter riparian buffer, 178 properties that have a presence of a buffer and 69 parcels that are not buffered.   

In conclusion, more attention needs to be focused on Annis Creek since it is only 35 percent buffered compared to the 61 percent buffered of Wilson Creek.  Furthermore, work that is being done to promote riparian buffers can be targeted to individual properties. Community organizations and government programs can judge the conditions of riparian buffers in any given area as well as have details about individual properties using remote sensing. 

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