Continued Efforts Between the GSC and the CAG

The GSC is assisting the Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group (CAG) in an effort to restore natural areas in Waukegan, IL as part of US EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  One of the areas under restoration is Bowen Park, formerly a boys and girls summer camp donated to Jane Addams’ Hull House Settlement by her friend and benefactor, Louise Bowen.

The park is mostly uplands on the eastern edge of the Highland Park moraine overlooking the Chicago Lake Plain.  Post-glacial drainage erosion of these uplands has created steep-walled Glen Flora ravine through the park. CAG had already started restoration work at the site when the severe storms of the summer of 2011 struck. That’s when they called in the GSC for help.

Runoff from the uplands overran the man-made and natural drainage systems to threaten park facilities with severe erosion.  High winds had downed many trees, blocking trails and impacting restoration efforts.  CAG initially asked the GSC to map the tree damage.  Steve Jansen, a GSC director, used the GSC’s handheld GPS units to locate, tag, and measure nearly 100 instances of downed or severely damaged trees as part of a CAG team which also included a botanist and land restoration managers.  The field data was incorporated into a GIS system created by Drew Bieber, also a GSC director.  The GSC team produced numerous maps (see below) to help CAG recover from the damage.

(click for larger image)

GSC’s continuing work at Bowen Park includes a floristic and geomorphic inventory of plants of interest, invasive species, and current and potential erosion and deposition areas.  We also are working with CAG on their restoration efforts on a 2.3 mile stretch of beaches, dunes, and swales along the Lake Michigan shoreline south of Illinois Beach State Park. We are now mapping baseline conditions for areas degraded by invasive species and current and potential habitats for endangered and threatened species. We will track progress on restoration work as it begins in 2012.

Previous Coverage: The GSC and the Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group

Friday News and Links

1. Hans Rosling dispels common misconceptions about modernization and “the developing world.”  (His other TED talks are also impressive.)

[ted id=620]

2. What’s producing methane on Mars?  (New York Times)

3. 2011 saw more billion-dollar weather-related disasters than any other year in US history. (Associated Press)

4. The necessity and relevance of GIS-related studies in modern K-12 classrooms.  (Directions Magazine)

Quote: “…geospatial technology is helping people be inquisitive, exploratory and analytical. Many situations and problems demand unique, iterative explorations and the ability to analyze data. Life is not a single-threaded linear existence. Educators need to model exploration and analysis, and then give students more and more opportunities to the do same.”

Maps Make Art Come Alive!

We all know that maps have unlimited uses–from way-finding to problem-solving.  Now computer mapping is being used in Japan to create rice paddy art.

The Great Wave

In 1993, the village of Inakadate, Japan, began using different varieties of rice (purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai and green-leafed tsugaru) to create vast murals in paddies.  Their goal was to draw money-spending visitors, and come they did, over 15,000 of them this past harvest season alone.

The Grains

Early in the process, before computer maps became a necessity, mistakes were made.  The giant Mona Lisa was too fat and lacked proper fingers.  Villagers appealed to a teacher to create computer-generated maps in order to calculate color proportions, plant numbers, and placement of stakes to serve as planting guides.  Over a thousand villagers volunteer each spring, but never see the “grains” of their labor until harvest.

Three-fingered Mona Lisa

Now that mapping is a staple in the process, the paddy art gets more and more sophisticated every year.  Tourists trek to see this living art exhibit from the faux medieval castle on top of the Inakadate village hall.

Time Lapse

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsxjqM6f-Gw?rel=0]