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Project Summary Sheet

U.S. Geological Survey, Greater Everglades Science Program: Place-Based Studies

Fiscal Year 2002 Project Summary Sheet


Project: Creation of a Digital Archive of Historical Aerial Photographs for Everglades National Park and the Greater Everglades Ecosystem

Web Sites: http://sofia.usgs.gov

Location (Subregions & Counties): Southeast coast, Southwest coast; Miami-Dade, Monroe, Collier, Lee, Hendry, Glades, Palm Beach, Broward

Funding (Source): Critical Ecosystems Studies Initiative from Everglades National Park

Principal Investigator(s): Thomas J. Smith III, Tom_J_Smith@usgs.gov, 727-803-8747 x 3130; Ann M. Foster, Ann Foster@usgs.gov, 352-372-2571

Project Personnel: Peter Briere, Peter_Briere@usgs.gov, 352-372-2571

Supporting Organizations: NPS, Fish & Wildlife Service, USDA-NRCS

Associated / Linked Projects: Vegetation Dynamics in the Land-Margin Ecosystems -- The mangroves of south Florida (Smith); Hydrologic Variation and Ecological Processes in the Mangrove Forests of South Florida -- Response to Restoration (Saiers/Smith); TIME -- Tides and Inflows to the Mangroves of the Everglades (Schaffranek/Jenter). Landscape models for the mangrove forests of the Everglades (Twilley/Doyle).

Overview & Status: The United States Congress has mandated a $7.8 Billion dollar restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem. The restoration is being guided by the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Numerous federal, State of Florida and local agencies are involved in the restoration process as are private, not for profit non-governmental organizations.

A foundation for Everglades restoration must include a clear understanding of the pre-drainage south Florida landscape. Knowledge of the spatial organization and structure of pre-drainage landscape communities such as mangrove forests, marshes, sloughs, wet prairies, and pinelands, is essential to provide potential endpoints, restoration goals and performance measures to gauge restoration success. Information contained in historical aerial photographs of the Everglades can aid in this endeavor.

The earliest known aerial photographs, from the mid to late 1920s, resulted in the production of T-Sheets (Topographic Sheets) for the coasts and shorelines of south Florida. The T-Sheets are remarkably detailed, delineating features such as, shorelines, ponds, and waterways, in addition to the position of the boundary between differing vegetation communities. If followed through time changes in the position of these ecotones could potentially be used to judge effects of changes in the landscape of the Everglades ecosystem, providing a standard by which restoration success can be ascertained.

Participants at a recent "Performance Measure Workshop," sponsored by Everglades National Park, realized the importance of translating the Park's aerial photo archives into digital format. The value they represent to the Greater Everglades research community for developing a pre-drainage baseline is great. Investigators from all four USGS Divisions, the National Park Service, the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Coastal Everglades LTER program have all expressed interest in such a collection when the initial concept was proposed at the recent International Estuarine Research Federation meeting in St. Petersburg.

Needs & Products: The major products will be a series of USGS Open File Reports, one for each complete, or near complete, set of photos. A photoset is defined as a collection of aerial photos that were taken during a discrete time, generally 30-60 days, with the same scale, film type, and camera. All Open File Reports will be distributed on CD-ROM. Each report will encompass a photoset with descriptive text sections such as Introduction, Metadata & Procedures, Study Area, and Acknowledgements. All scanned images will be in a downloadable format. One OFR, entitled "Conversion of Historical Topographic Sheets (T-sheets) from Paper to Digital Form: Florida Everglades and Vicinity," with digital copies of the 1927 topographic sheets has just been approved for release and another with the 1940 aerial photoset is under review.

Application to Everglades Restoration: The products developed by this project are being used in the formulation of Performance Measures. For example, spatial data on the movement of the mangrove / marsh ecotone (derived from the digital historical aerial photographs) will be used to provide a pre-drainage baseline of the Everglades ecosystem and metrics of success in restoration.

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Note: "x" indicates task completed during quarter, and "o" indicates task planned, but not completed


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Last updated: 24 April, 2014 @ 12:45 PM (KP)