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Explore GTAC

You don't need a map to explore GTAC, but you'll find a map around every corner! Images of a map and 3D remote sensing image.
Geospatial Technology Supporting Forest Management

You don't need a map to explore GTAC -- but you'll find one around every corner! At the Geospatial Technology and Applications Center (GTAC), we advance the Forest Service mission through the application of new geospatial science, technology, and methods to meet business requirements. On the Explore GTAC page, you can learn more about the work we do at GTAC by reading stories about what we do.


Visualizing the Changing American Landscape

Online App Provides National Landscape Change Time-Lapse Imagery
Screenshot of LCMS Data Explorer. View of Continental United States with AK insert.

Interested in how our national landscape changes over time? In February 2021, USDA Forest Service has released its expanded online Landscape Change Monitoring System (LCMS), a publicly available dataset that combines remote sensing products (including Landsat imagery) with reference data to create meaningful spatial data products such as time-lapses showing annual vegetation change, land cover, and land use. The release, developed by staff at the agency's GTAC in Salt Lake City, greatly expands LCMS's coverage to include the entire continental United States and South and East Coastal Alaska. The update also adds 5 new data layers covering 1985 to present.


> Learn more



Forest Service and NASA Upgrade Online Active Fire Mapping Tool

Real-Time Satellite Data and Thermal Imagery for Wildfire Suppression and the Public

The USDA Forest Service is releasing a new online active fire mapping tool, developed in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to better support fire suppression efforts in North America.

The new Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) US/Canada application will provide access to low latency satellite imagery and other science data to identify the location, extent and intensity of wildfire activity and its effects.


> Learn more



New StoryMap Explains Lidar Applications

Lidar remote sensing technology has many useful applications that benefit National Forest management.

These data and resources are also freely available to academia, state and local governments, nonprofit entities and the public, solidifying the Forest Service as a partner in forest management across the landscape.


> Learn more



Using Technology to Improve Land Ownership Data for Metes-and-Bounds Surveyed National Forests

In January 2021, the White Mountain National Forest announced the successful collaboration between the Forest and Geospatial Technology and Application Center to solve the puzzle of how to improve foundational land ownership data in metes-and-bounds-surveyed national forests using Geographical Information Systems.


Learn More: Putting the pieces together: Spatial improvement project modernizes land ownership data process



GTAC Employee Association Supports Bike Program

In addition to being geospatial leaders in the agency, GTAC employees are good neighbors in their communities!

Check out this story that highlights our community spirit in support of an innovative youth project that combines STEM learning with outdoor recreation!

> Learn more


This story also appears in the Inside the Forest Service newsletter.



Forest Service Geospatial Center Cutting Edge Geospatial Applications

Three contract staff from the USDA Forest Service's Geospatial Technology and Applications Center (GTAC) provided presentations on Google Earth Engine's "Geo for Good 2020" Public Sector online plenary session.

The plenary event featured twenty-five 5-minute "lightning talks" by twenty-five different geospatial innovators from around the world. GTAC's Leah Campbell, Joshua Heyer, and Claire Simpson each gave a 5-minute presentation about how the Forest Service is using public data in Google Earth platform to benefit public lands. Together, their presentations also clearly demonstrate how the work of Forest Service geospatial experts contributes to cutting edge developments in geospatial technology.


> Learn more



GTAC Contributes to Extensive Soil Mapping Update

Having an updated database of soils present on the Payette National Forest is more important than one might think. Due to this importance, soil scientists from the Payette National Forest and Region 4 have partnered with Natural Resource Conservation Service Soil Scientists and mapping experts at the Forest Service's Geospatial Technology and Applications Center to create an updated map of the distribution of soil types on the Forest. This extensive project will update the Payette National Forest Land System Inventory (LSI) for the first time in years. Learn more in this Payette National Forest Facebook page post.



International Recognition: 2020 Special Achievement in GIS

In 2020, GTAC received a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) award for the wide range of geospatial support we provide across the US Forest Service.

Each year, the international SAG Awards acknowledge innovative and intelligent applications of GIS technology aimed at addressing the needs of organizations and communities.



LCMS Data Viewer is Online

In 2020, the USDA Forest Service released an updated version of its Landscape Change Monitoring System (LCMS), a publicly available online tool that utilizes satellite data to generate annual maps showing vegetation change, land cover, and land use over time. The new release, developed cooperatively by the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) and the Geospatial Technology and Applications Center (GTAC), adds the 2019 data layer to the previously available layers going back to 1985. Check it out here:



Excellence in Cartography Award

At GTAC we contribute to award-winning work throughout the agency.

In 2020, we contributed data to this Prince of Wales Island (Tongass National Forest) map made by cartographers in the Forest Service's Region 10 office. The map won the ICA and IMIA Recognition of Excellence in Cartography Award. A big part of our work is gathering, managing and analyzing geospatial data for use in projects such as these.



Apply Knowledge Globally: Habitat Monitoring and Management in Malawi

In August 2019, a USDA Forest Service team spent the last two weeks of July in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi, working to advance a long-term, reserve-wide wildlife and habitat monitoring program.

This monitoring program, which was co-designed by the USDA Forest Service and African Parks with support from the Malawi office of the US Agency for International Development, is specially tailored to this rugged, densely vegetated landscape. GTAC mapping supported the project. Learn more here.



Webinar: Moving Forward with Crowdsourced Data

Interested in citizen science?! In February 2018, two GTAC remote sensing staff provided this webinar about crowdsourced data.

Crowdsourcing is an open call for volunteers to provide information or help solve a problem. Recognizing the value of crowdsourcing, the Forest Service conducted an assessment of crowdsourced Geospatial Data in the Forest Service. This webinar describes the information gathered. It also includes a discussion and valuable links.

Video Presentation:Link to Webinar.

Find more Resources and Webinars on the Forest Service Citizen Science Resources page.



How is GTAC's Remote Sensing Applied on Forests?

Ever wonder how our remote sensing services are applied on the National Forests? Well here is one example! The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest incorporated remote sensing into its Forest Plan Monitoring Implementation Guide. When monitoring how management activities are affecting late successional forest structure in relation to desired conditions, foresters can document acres of late-successional structure lost or converted by uncharacteristically hot wildfires by using RAVG (Rapid Assessment of Vegetation Conditions after Wildfire) burn severity maps from GTAC. Learn more about the Forest Service's BAER program and RAVG program.



Apply Knowledge Globally: Training remote sensing technicians in the Congo

In 2017, two employees from GTAC spent two weeks in the Democratic Republic of Congo to provide training on remote sensing techniques for measuring forest cover change.

In so doing, GTAC's trainers helped build in-house capacity for both the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring Republic of Congo to monitor forest resources. Learn more here.



Apply Knowledge Globally: Maintaining Gross National Happiness

In late 2017, seven forest researchers from Bhutan worked with staff at the Forest Service Geospatial Technology and Applications Center to share techniques and knowledge for developing maps of forest change.


Learn more here.



Kenai Vegetation Mapping Project

Map representing vegetation types of Kenai Peninsula.

For the Kenai Vegetation Mapping Project, GTAC was tasked with developing a map of vegetation dominance types with associated structure classes.

The work involved assembling geospatial data (imagery and topographic information), collecting reference data, and developing statistical models to map vegetation types, canopy cover, and tree size. Maps showing existing vegetation were produced to identify and describe the spatial distributions of dominance types and structural classes for over 5.7 million acres (including federal, state, native, and private land in-holding) across the Kenai Peninsula in south central Alaska. Learn more here and here.