New on the ESER
Third Quarter Surveillance Report
Fourth Quarter Surveillance Report
Newspaper in Education Ask a Scientist website
Desert Species of
An Animal of the High Desert-Golden Eagle
Desert Species of
the Month Archive
Focus on INL Bird Species List
The INL provides important
breeding and nesting habitat for many species of raptors
Adventure for Teachers and Adults
ESER staff members are available for presentations to groups and
classrooms in southeastern Idaho. Presentations are adapted to
grade-level and are free of charge.
Schedule a presentation:
S. M. Stoller Corp.
120 Technology Drive
Idaho Falls, ID 83402
New Vegetation Map for the INL
Accurate classification and mapping of vegetation
communities have become increasingly important tools for conservation
management. By understanding the distribution and condition of plant
communities on a landscape, a number of conservation goals can more easily be
Determining which community types are intrinsically
rare or have been severely degraded
Identifying the best remaining occurrences of
natural communities across their geographic ranges
Development of habitat suitability models for
predicting species occurrences, and
Classifying areas for their importance in
conservation management planning.
INL Vegetation Map
Previous vegetation maps of the INL are inadequate
to serve these conservation management planning goals because they are
outdated. The most recent effort was almost twenty years ago and does not
capture important changes that have occurred since that time including fires,
sagebrush die-off and invasion by non-native plants. Also, methodologies for
vegetation classification and mapping have been refined and standardized since
those earlier maps and will allow for continuity between classification on the
INL and on neighboring lands managed by other agencies.
Goals and Objectives
The overall goal of vegetation community classification and mapping
is to assess the distribution of plant communities on the INL.
Specific objectives are to:
Determine the communities types
present on the INL
Determine the distribution of
those communities types on the landscape, and
Conduct an accuracy assessment
of the resulting map.
The final products of this effort
will be a GIS database of plant communities on the INL at a
geographic scale suitable for use in Candidate Conservation
Agreements and the Conservation Management Plan. This GIS database
will be used as the basis for assigning conservation strategies.
Approach and Accomplishments
The proposed approach to plant community classification and mapping
will be done in a three step process.
The first step is to classify
the plant communities on the INL. The classification system
chosen is the U.S. National Vegetation Classification system. It
is a hierarchical system developed by the Federal Geographic
Using pre-existing data, a preliminary vegetation
community classification, necessary for the field data
collection, was completed in May 2008. Field data collection
will be conducted in June, July and August of 2008. Data
analysis to define community classification is expected to begin
in the fall of 2008.
The second step is to delineate
the mapping units. The mapping units are derived through aerial
photo interpretation. On June
15, 2007, color-infrared digital imagery was collected at 1
meter ground sample distance across the entire INL.
The next step will be assigning the relationships between
mapping units and plant association.
The third step will be to ground
truth the map and conduct an accuracy assessment. This will be
done by surveying randomly selected points from the draft map.
Linking the plant community classification to the delineated map
is expected to occur in winter of 2009 with field accuracy
assessments to occur in spring and summer of 2009. The final
report and project completion is expected in 2010.
Benefits to Department of Energy
Understanding the distribution and condition of plant communities on
the INL will:
Support conservation management
through habitat mapping
Aid the development of Habitat
Guide surveys for sensitive
Guide revegetation and weed
Increase the efficiency of
assessing environmental impacts of siting new facilities
Serve as an important background
database for research on the National Environmental Research
Park and ecological monitoring at the INL.