02 February 2024

Mapping the Way: Field Preparation, Modoc Edition

Written by: Cody Tiffany

I am back for episode two of life at the Modoc National Forest. Now that I am 4 Months into my internship I have settled into my role and learned the basics of the NRM (Natural Resource Management) database and familiarized myself with how the Forest Service uses GIS software. In my last post, I had more field work to talk about, but as the weather changes, I get to focus my attention more on data entry, trainings, and preparing for next field season. Luckily for me, I have still had the pleasure to get out into the field on occasion, when the weather permits of course.

Another one of my focus areas I have been actively working on is preparing for data collection in the upcoming field season. While collaborating with our Civil Engineer, we identified key areas which needed reworking and/or updating in ArcGIS Online and Field Maps. During an ESRI training, I learned how to add domains to attributes within a feature layer and create field maps forms based on the domains, which allows me to create an easy-to-use layer for the field crew to use during surveys. As an example, I added a domain to the signs layer that allows the field crew to a specific sign status, which will then auto symbolize the point on their map. The idea behind this process was to speed up the field collection process by reducing redundancy in the map, create a living feature layer that changes automatically with updates, and assists the engineering department in the future with consistent metadata from the field collection. I have a few more left to consolidate and edit into this format before it is all ready, but I have been able to finish the field maps for our signs crew and safety inspections for dams.

As I learn more about NRM, I have found that I am able to edit data, pull information with geo-location, and update existing features within the database. The two biggest projects I have worked on with NRM are Trails accomplishments and Dam locations. The Trails manager and I had a sit down to input 3 years of accomplishments into the database. Accomplishments help to track the work that has been completed on Forest Lands and who completed the work. Together we added updates for 31 trails totaling over 75 miles of trails maintained and 7 miles of trail improved. The dam’s project is still ongoing, but I have a good start on it at this point. Our NRM data only had geolocations for 85 of 152 dams. I had to browse historic hard copy files and inspection reports to locate the dams to update the GIS layer for field maps. I was able to narrow down the location on 149 of the dams with a general location for the last three. Once we confirm all the points, I will update NRM with current inspection statuses and geolocations for the dams.

Lastly, during the last two months my supervisor has designated me as an inspector for a dam repair contract at Janes Reservoir. Since I completed my Contracting Officer Representative training, this opportunity exposes me to how contracts work. I have made a handful trips to the site to see the progress that the contractor completed. There was a large hole in the old pipe that was allowing water to flow through even if the headgate was fully shut. So far, the contractor has installed a new pipe, refitted the headgate and wheel, and filled 80% of the dirt. I am excited to see the project finished when weather allows.

I am thoroughly enjoying this opportunity and the continued learning experience. I have some exciting trainings coming up for both the Forest Service and California National Guard. I am excited to see what the next two months hold for me and to get back with everyone in April.

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