Oregon Explorer News

Tools for investigating the natural resources of Oregon

Lakes and Deschutes — Two New Basin Portals!

We hope you have time to preview the Deschutes and Lakes basin portals – our newest additions to the Oregon Explorer.

Deschutes Basin Portal

Deshutes Basin Portal

The Deschutes Basin Explorer highlights the collaboration of the Trust for Public Land Project to establish a “greenprint” for Deschutes county, salmon habitat restoration, and issues associated with juniper encroachment.  It provides background and information about plant and animal species, habitats, vegetation, and stream health in portions of the five ecoregions: the Cascades, the Eastern Cascade slopes and foothills, the Blue Mountains, Columbia Plateau and Northern Basin and Range.

Lakes Basin Portal

Lakes Basin Portal

The Lakes Basin Explorer provides background and information relevant to natural resource decision-making as it relates to Steens Mountain, ecosystem diversity, and ecosystem restoration.  It is collaboration with representatives from Harney and Lake Counties watershed councils, the BLM, and the Steens Mountain Advisory Council.  Featured are stories related to restoring the sagebrush community of the steppe, cooperative management of Steens Mountain, managing the Kiger Mustang population, and mitigating the impact of invasive vegetation on fire regime and native vegetation.

These portals had their soft launch in late April 2010.  They are not yet linked on the main Oregon Explorer website but you can find them by adding “/lakesbasin” or “/deschutesbasin” to the Oregon Explorer URL.   We welcome your comments.  A link is available in the lower left corner to provide feedback (see red highlighted area on the images above).

Land Use in Oregon

“In 1919 the State of Oregon granted authority to cities to plan and zone; this was challenged in court and upheld as valid in 1925, two years before the U.S. Supreme Court established a national precedent for such authority… Citizen involvement in land use planning peaked in the 1970s.  For many Oregonians today, planning is part of a bureaucratic routine rather than an active contributor to livability.  There is a need to reinvigorate public interest and involvement as new planning issues emerge.”  –excerpted from  About Oregon Land Use. The Land Use Explorer [http://www.oregonexplorer.info/LandUse]

For those interested in pursuing questions about land use concerns in Oregon, two “viewer” tools on the Land Use Explorer may be of assistance.  These are the Measure 37 Viewer and the Measure 49 Viewer.

Figure 1.

Measure 37, passed in 2004, requires state and local governments to either waive land use regulations or compensate landowners when a regulation reduces a property’s fair market value. The Measure 37 viewer was developed to help inform decision-making related to current and proposed land uses, as well as changes in land use policy.  With the Measure 37 Viewer (Figure 1), you can get a sense of these impacts on a specific location related to proximity to urban growth boundaries, soils, forest Land, fire risk, conservation opportunities and ground water restrictions.

Figure 2.

The Measure 49, passed in 2007, clarified some of the issues associated with Measure 37 claims.  In that context, the Measure 49 viewer (Figure 2) can be used as a first step in determining if property is high-value farmland or forestland or in a ground water restricted area as defined in Measure 49 .

The Land Use Explorer portal provides the user with a wealth of information on land issues in Oregon including mapping tools, state and local planning documents, streaming videos, and links to experts (including those in OSU Extension).  We invite you to investigate how it may be useful to your clientele.

Rural Communities Reporter

Last month I mentioned that the Rural Communities Explorer provides public access to reliable and up-to-date social, demographic, economic, and environmental information about Oregon’s rural communities – over 700 named places in 36 counties. This is done via the Oregon Communities Reporter.

Using it could not be simpler,

  • Select the places and/or counties of interest.  These go into your “report bin”
  • Decide if you want to combine or compare these communities
  • Click on “generate report” —  view your customized report online or print it.

Whether for a student comparing the demographics of Malheur and Harney counties for a report or for a local council member preparing for a planning meeting, this tool is a great start.  When the student needs to understand how a particular statistic is defined or the planner wants the data source, they just click on the header and a pop-up box tells them.

So, try it!  I assure you (channeling my best twelve year old Michael Jackson) “it’s easy as one, two, three!”

Topic Portals and Tools

The six “topic” portals in the Oregon Explorer address issues associated with a topic of concern to Oregonians.  Most often these have a natural resource focus.  They provide tools that help citizens formulate pertinent questions and take action locally.

Most often the tools on these topics have a mapping component.  For example, the Wildfire Risk Explorer allows you to view search for level of wildfire risk in your community by zip code, community, or 4th, 5th, 6th field watershed.  It also provides information about reducing that risk.   If you are interested in being prepared for other eventualities, there is the Oregon Hazards Explorer.  Using the “hazards reporter” you can generate reports and maps of hazard potential (flooding, earthquake, tsunami, wildfire, etc.) where you live.  You can also read stories about past events and find resources to prepare for the future.

The Land Use Explorer addresses the issues associated with Measures 37 and 49 and land use decisions in general.  Using the viewer-tool in this portal you can overlay land use claim data, urban growth boundaries, soils, forest land, fire risk, conservation opportunities and/or ground water restrictions.

The Oregon Wildlife Explorer provides information about the wildlife species and issues in Oregon.  It highlights The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s strategies to address key conservation issues that present the greatest threats to wildlife populations and their habitats throughout the state.  Using the Oregon Wetlands Explorer you can map wetlands in your community, find priority areas for wetland mitigation, and learn about Oregon’s greatest wetlands, wetland restoration, history, ecology and classification.

Last, but by no means least, is the Rural Communities Explorer which provides public access to reliable and up-to-date social, demographic, economic, and environmental information about Oregon’s rural counties and communities.  This explorer project is also an example of the OSU community working together with expertise from the OSU Rural Studies Program, OSU Extension, OSU Libraries, and the Institute for Natural Resources.

Oregon Imagery Explorer

A new business looks for site specific information as it considers a move to rural Oregon.  A community leader facilitates a discussion of a controversial natural resources issue with imagery and habitat data for the area in question.  The need for timely, high quality, spatial datasets and imagery is growing every day.  But identifying where these are located can be time consuming.  And, because they are usually very large, distributing them can be cumbersome.  There is often an unnecessary duplication of effort in the process.   At the root of the solution to these problems is the creation of basic imagery data (and metadata) that adhere to a common standard upon which organizations can build by adding their own detailed datasets throughout the state, and a reliable tool, accessible 24/7, which allows users anywhere in the state to select an area of interest, compress the data and metadata associated with it, and send it for use in another application – a tool to “clip, zip, and ship” for later use.

The Oregon Imagery Explorer (along with the Oregon Spatial Data Library mentioned last month) is intended to be part of this solution.  Launched in October 2007, its development is part of a collaboration with the Oregon Geospatial Enterprise Office (GEO) and their GIS Utility Initiative, navigatOR.

Everyone from the local GIS officer to the local citizen can use the Oregon Imagery Explorer.   If that person is you, begin by selecting the link to “view/download imagery” and follow the steps.  Currently the 2005 National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) high resolution (0.5 meter) color aerial photography is available for the entire state and in the spring of 2010 the NAIP data for 2009 will also be available.

To view the NAIP imagery, first launch the “Image Viewing and Extraction Tool.”  You will see an interactive map containing images that are available for viewing and downloading. Locate an area of interest by panning, zooming, or searching for a specified location.  If you would like to extract only part of the image, draw a clip rectangle defining the region to be extracted. Once you have placed your first “order” for imagery, your settings such as output format and projection will be remembered for future orders if requested. Tutorials are available at http://oregonexplorer.info/imagery/about/about.aspx?Res=17225.

Making this data available via the Web eliminates the need for duplicate acquisition, storage, and distribution efforts, thus saving taxpayer dollars. The broad functionality of this public tool provides advantages for users.  As available datasets the Oregon Spatial Data Library grow in number, so too will the value added from the imagery explorer.

Tools: for Spatial Data Expert and Novice

For the natural resource professional with GIS experience, the new Oregon Spatial Data Library will provide a convenient way to find, access, and share geospatial data. It includes all available statewide “framework” data.  These serve as “base data” for a variety of Geographic Information System (GIS) applications.  Framework datasets include administrative boundaries, transportation, land use and ownership, water, hazards, and wetlands.  Currently, more than 200 datasets can be accessed and downloaded from the Oregon Spatial Data Library.

  • Users can select an area of interest from a map or by a location, select that area from the database, compress images for efficient transfer, and electronically transfer the files.
  • Oregon Hazards Data is currently “featured” on the site.  And from there, users can link to the Hazards Reporter tool and create reports of known hazards in specific areas.

The site, launched in November, is a partnership between Oregon State University Libraries, Institute for Natural Resources, and the Oregon Department of Administrative Services Geospatial Enterprise Office (DAS-GEO).  University of Oregon Libraries is also a collaborator, and will contribute additional geospatial datasets to the Oregon Spatial Data Library.

More on this at a later date, but if you need to locate spatial data for Oregon — give it a try at http://spatialdata.oregonexplorer.info.  But this begs the question:  Does the Oregon Explorer offer anything for a spatial data novice, like me?  Yes — mapping tools!

Mapping and other tools are associated with each Explorer site.  For now, let me just introduce you to the one you will find on the Oregon Explorer under “Maps.”

As a novice, one option I have is to investigate some ready-made mapping options (where a subject such as fish passage or water quality is predefined).  I need only indicate where to map.   The next option I have is the basic maps tool.  This lets me pick and choose from predefined information layers (e.g. Land Ownership & Coho Salmon, counties, etc.).  In both cases:

  1. I pick an address or place name OR select all of Oregon and then
  2. I view my map, decide if I want to add something else (a highway overlay; a topo map background) and then click on “create PDF” and “email” to myself or someone else.

If I want additional options, I can use the advanced mapping tool or use the link to a short mapping tools tutorial that will make me feel comfortable with mapping terminology and the use of the specifics of the advanced tool.

You can’t break the mapping tool, so use it and/or show it to others!

Introduction to the Oregon Explorer

Over the next several months I’d like to provide you with a little more information about the “Oregon Explorer.” The Oregon Explorer (OE) is an evolving, collaborative natural resources digital library initiated by the OSU Libraries and the Institute for Natural Resources. Its goal is to provide the citizens of Oregon with a wide array of high quality, place-based information, in relevant formats, relating to the natural resources of our state.

The Oregon Explorer is a statewide site but is also a place to link to “topic,” “basin,” and more recently “data” portals as you see in the chart below.

Oregon Explorer (6/2007)

(launch dates in parentheses)

Basin Topic Data
Deschutes (2010) Wetlands (11/2009) Oregon Spatial Data Library (11/2009)
Lakes (2010) Oregon Hazards (6/2009) Oregon Imagery (10/2007)
Umpqua (3/2006) Rural Communities (10/2008)
North Coast (2/2005) Oregon Wildlife (1/2008)
Willamette (6/2004) Land Use (11/2007)
Wildfire Risk (10/2006)

Developing tools that support natural resource decision-making and provide access to spatial data by the novice has been a mainstay of the Oregon Explorer. In November, OE launched its second “data” portal, the Oregon Spatial Data Library. This is a collaboration with the Oregon Department of Administrative Services. The first data portal was the Oregon Imagery Explorer which provides access to .5 m color imagery acquired in 2005.

OSU Extension has participated in the development of several portals within OE family. We hope you will find opportunities to use the site as well — be that for your work directly or in advising your clientele throughout the state.

(This post is the first of several articles written originally for the OSU Extension Staff Newsletter during 2009/2010).