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Ecology 2015 Update Montana Natural Heritage Program


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Presentation by Ecology Program Manager, Linda Vance, and GIS Specialist, Jamul Hahn, on Ecology Program updates in 2015 at the Montana Natural Heritage Program annual partners meeting at Montana Wild in Helena, Montana on December 7th, 2015.

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Ecology 2015 Update Montana Natural Heritage Program

  1. 1. The Ecology Program: OverviewThe Ecology Program: Overview Mapping, description, assessment and analysis of wetlands and riparian areas Statewide and ecosystem-specific land cover mapping and modeling Description, assessment and analysis of upland plant communities and ecological systems Description, assessment and analysis of aquatic communities and ecological systems
  2. 2. Staff changes 2015Staff changes 2015 Departures:Departures: •Gary Carnefix,Gary Carnefix, PhotointerpreterPhotointerpreter •Robin Lium, WetlandRobin Lium, Wetland Mapping CoordinatorMapping Coordinator •Karen Newlon,Karen Newlon, Ecologist/Project ManagerEcologist/Project Manager •Dave Stagliano, AquaticDave Stagliano, Aquatic EcologistEcologist
  3. 3. Wetland and Riparian Mapping Center Started in 2006 with fundingStarted in 2006 with funding from an EPA Wetlandfrom an EPA Wetland Program Development GrantProgram Development Grant Goal: create statewideGoal: create statewide digital wetland and ripariandigital wetland and riparian mapping.mapping. Four full-time GIS specialistsFour full-time GIS specialists Funding comes from manyFunding comes from many partnerspartners
  4. 4. Status of wetland mapping circa 2006Status of wetland mapping circa 2006
  5. 5. Land cover mappingLand cover mapping • Due to funding cuts, the 2014-15 statewide Land Cover/Land Use layer is an in-house, on demand product. Accuracy assessment and metadata are incomplete but it does include fire and agriculture through 2014 • We are using it for predictive modelling (Ecology and Zoology), as a background map layer, and as the basis for other project products, including a Human Disturbance index • Currently, land cover mapping focuses on specific land cover classes such as Russian olive and whitebark pine, and on the production of ancillary products for modelling and analysis
  6. 6. Russian olive 2013Russian olive 2013 • Classification accuracies ranging from 93.6% to 99.07% • Overall, 17,694 acres along eastern Montana’s large rivers were infested by Russian Olive in 2013 • Bighorn River is most affected, with over 3% of its valley bottom covered by Russian Olive. • The Musselshell, Clark Fork of the Yellowstone, Marias, Powder and Yellowstone rivers have over 1% of their flood plain covered by Russian Olive. • The Milk River has less than 1%, but it has the third largest acreage of infestation (2,038 acres). • Based on our predictive models, a total of 310,664 acres have a high probability of Russian Olive infestation in the future as cottonwoods die out
  7. 7. Whitebark pine mappingWhitebark pine mapping Partnership with USFSPartnership with USFS Region 1Region 1 Goal is to map extent ofGoal is to map extent of whitebark pine,whitebark pine, emphasizing regenerationemphasizing regeneration and persistenceand persistence Presence-absencePresence-absence complete for Beaverhead-complete for Beaverhead- Deerlodge, Helena, LewisDeerlodge, Helena, Lewis and Clark, and Gallatin-and Clark, and Gallatin- Custer NFs, in progress forCuster NFs, in progress for Lolo and Bitterroot.Lolo and Bitterroot. Relative AbundanceRelative Abundance underway for Helena NFunderway for Helena NF
  8. 8. Topographic Position IndexTopographic Position Index
  9. 9. Landform MapLandform Map
  10. 10. Human Disturbance IndexHuman Disturbance Index
  11. 11. Current and ongoing core work/projectsCurrent and ongoing core work/projects Headwater wetlandsHeadwater wetlands Intermontane prairie potholesIntermontane prairie potholes Forested wetlandsForested wetlands Reference standard wetlandsReference standard wetlands Ecological site descriptionsEcological site descriptions National Vegetation Classification StandardNational Vegetation Classification Standard Index of Alien InvasibilityIndex of Alien Invasibility Simplified FQAIsSimplified FQAIs Wetland Prioritization DatabaseWetland Prioritization Database Macroinvertebrate and Fish SurveysMacroinvertebrate and Fish Surveys NWI PlusNWI Plus
  12. 12. NWI PlusNWI Plus Conceptually similar to NHDConceptually similar to NHD Plus, which develops value-Plus, which develops value- added attributes for streamadded attributes for stream reachesreaches Developed with Core, EPA,Developed with Core, EPA, USGS and DEQ fundsUSGS and DEQ funds In addition to the typical NWIIn addition to the typical NWI attributes (Cowardinattributes (Cowardin classification and size), itclassification and size), it provides a wide range ofprovides a wide range of associated information in oneassociated information in one geodatabasegeodatabase Factual info, such asFactual info, such as – Ownership classOwnership class – County, Reservation, PLSS infoCounty, Reservation, PLSS info – Conservation easementsConservation easements – HUC 8,10 and 12HUC 8,10 and 12 – Omernik ecoregions Level 3 and 4Omernik ecoregions Level 3 and 4 Calculated and modelled info,Calculated and modelled info, such assuch as – Rarity on a statewide, watershed andRarity on a statewide, watershed and ecoregional scaleecoregional scale – In 90In 90thth percentile of size classespercentile of size classes – Part of a wetland or landscapePart of a wetland or landscape complexcomplex – Headwater statusHeadwater status – LLWW indicatorsLLWW indicators
  13. 13. Upcoming workUpcoming work ““Wetland of specialWetland of special significance”significance” National WetlandNational Wetland Condition AssessmentCondition Assessment Springs and seepsSprings and seeps Consolidated wetlandConsolidated wetland assessment databaseassessment database Screening tool forScreening tool for remapping wetlandsremapping wetlands Complete statewideComplete statewide whitebark mappingwhitebark mapping
  14. 14. Thanks to…Thanks to… Jen Chutz, Ecologist/Projects ManagerJen Chutz, Ecologist/Projects Manager Jamul Hahn, Wetland Mapping CoordinatorJamul Hahn, Wetland Mapping Coordinator Melissa Hart, Ecologist/GIS AnalystMelissa Hart, Ecologist/GIS Analyst Claudine Tobalske, Ecologist/GIS AnalystClaudine Tobalske, Ecologist/GIS Analyst Joe Fortier, GIS/Remote Sensing SpecialistJoe Fortier, GIS/Remote Sensing Specialist Emily Luther, Ecologist/GIS SpecialistEmily Luther, Ecologist/GIS Specialist Sara Owen, Ecologist/GIS SpecialistSara Owen, Ecologist/GIS Specialist QUESTIONS?QUESTIONS?