News and Notes

A Newsletter for Faculty and Staff of Idaho State University

November 14, 2011 — Vol. 27 No. 45

Geosciences Researchers Land Grants

Idaho State University geosciences researchers received two grants this fall totaling more than $688,000 to study fuels in shrub-dominated landscapes in the Northwest and to gather remote-sensing data to assess floodplains.

The largest amount—$546,723—is from the Joint Fire Science Program, an interagency research and development partnership between the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The Joint Fire Science Program awarded the money to the U.S. Geological Survey and ISU's Boise Center Aerospace Laboratory over three years.

The goal of the project, which will focus on lands in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area south of Boise, is to provide land managers with better tools to assess fuel volumes before a fire and how best to manage a landscape after a blaze, said Nancy Glenn, ISU geosciences research professor and BCAL director.

Fuel volume—combustible grasses, shrubs and trees—is calculated by tons of fuel per acre. The higher the fuel volume, the hotter the fire will burn.  ISU's portion of the project is to characterize the vegetation for fuel inventories by using remote-sensing or LiDAR data and to process the data.

"This project is a great opportunity for ISU students to work closely with the USGS, Bureau of Land Management and Orchard Training Area scientists. It's also an opportunity for federal agencies to better utilize remote-sensing tools and software for land management," said Glenn.

The Idaho Department of Water Resources awarded BCAL a $142,000 contract to collect and analyze airborne LiDAR imagery to assess floodplains.  The images will provide precise elevation data, enabling scientists to study floodplains in greater detail and identify flooding hazards.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided funding to IDWR and ISU to monitor several areas in Idaho, including the Priest and Snake River regions. The project also supports the newly formed Idaho LiDAR Consortium led by ISU.

For more information about the grants, contact Nancy Glenn at (208) 345-1994.  To read more about the Idaho LiDAR Consortium, visit http://www.idaholidar.org/.