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Aerial images of coast help planners, others

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POSTED: March 10, 2014 1:29 p.m.
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This aerial image of the Sapelo Island Lighthouse is just of the many captured in the new high-resolution dataset of coastal Georgia.

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SOCIAL CIRCLE — Partners including the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, coastal counties and local and federal agencies have produced an aerial-imagery dataset of coastal Georgia that offers the most high-resolution look yet at the region and will be used for everything from county planning to wildlife conservation.
The images, referred to as orthoimagery data and used in geographic-information systems, are the first of the coast taken consistently at low tide. That perspective, combined with images acquired in the near-infrared spectrum at a spatial resolution of 6 inches — showing items as small as 6 inches wide — allows scientists, planners, GIS professionals, regulators and the public to better identify ground objects.
Jason Lee, a nongame conservation-section program manager with DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, called the project a “testament to our coastal counties, state and federal agencies’ willingness to work together to achieve regional goals.”
In addition to the Wildlife Resources Division, partners included Savannah Area GIS; DNR’s Coastal Resources Division; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Services Center; Chatham, Bryan, Effingham, Liberty, McIntosh and Glynn counties; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Center; and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Sonny Emmert, coastal resources specialist with the Coastal Resources Division, said the new orthoimagery dataset “provides an accurate, high-resolution, regional snapshot of coastal Georgia that will have multiple uses.”
According to a news release, state and federal partners will benefit from improved regional natural resource maps and increased research accuracy. Local governments will benefit from cost-sharing, municipal uses and consistent regional-dataset development. State resource agencies such as the DNR use the imagery for habitat mapping, land-use analysis, permitting and other purposes.
Due to the dynamic issues that define coastal Georgia, particularly increased development in areas at risk of natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding, imagery datasets like this are vital for environmental and hazard planning, according to Lee. Leveraging federal, state and local funding for these projects is essential, he said.
Contractor Photo Science Inc. took the images for the dataset in the winter of 2013.
NOAA plans to have the complete dataset available to the public April 1 at csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast. Counties can be contacted for their individual data.

 

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