We cannot talk about fulfilling our core mission to protect the landscapes and waterways on the Preserve without acknowledging the great work of our interns, specifically our first-ever intern and now head of our internship program Casey Blankenship. At our last board meeting, Casey shared this amazing presentation that maps the Preserve using ArcGIS and a drone (the video is in the presentation is spectacular!).
The presentation visualizes the data that he and other interns have collected over the past three years. The work started with a collection of baseline information from different studies from 2014 to 2020. From there, the interns collected additional information ranging from land purchases and donations to the mapping of neighboring landownership. Additional critical pieces of information gathered include the pinpointing of target areas for focus at the Preserve. The ability to target areas helps us make informed decisions on important projects and focus our resources on the highest priority areas that need restoration.
The benefit of this work also extends far into the future. This data collection and visual storytelling will help us map change over time. As we experience a changing climate, it will be even more important in the future to alter plantings and tree selection to withstand warmer and drier conditions. It will also tell us how we can best identify and manage invasive species, as well as any disease clusters in trees should they arise.
This report also outlines wildlife and stream data. While it’s hard to draw conclusions from ecological data, according to Casey’s report, having the baselines in place to measure changes – good or bad – can help us navigate future challenges and opportunities throughout the Preserve. It also gives the Foundation a greater understanding of the type of interns and skills needed to further the data collection and help us plan for the future.
We are incredibly grateful for this work and we know it will benefit the next leaders and interns associated with the Foundation.
– Jeff Wirtz, President