Stories From The Field

Leveraging Partnerships to Fulfill Multiple Land Cover Data Needs

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Oregon’s Lower Columbia River Estuary is designated by the National Estuary Program as one of 28 estuaries of national significance. To protect and restore this estuary, the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership works through its habitat restoration and ecosystem monitoring programs. The partnership recognized the need for an up-to-date land cover map of the Lower Columbia River floodplain to coordinate its stewardship efforts.


To meet the need for up-to-date land cover, the partnership requested proposals to produce a cost-effective, moderate-resolution (30 meter) data set. The Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP) produces land cover and change information for the coastal regions of the U.S. every five years. Upon seeing the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership’s request for proposal, NOAA reached out to coordinate efforts, since C-CAP was beginning its 2010 land cover update. The C-CAP team worked with the partnership to identify its needs and determined that a higher resolution product (1 to 5 meters) was needed and affordable. The C-CAP team supported the mapping effort by providing technical assistance and quality assurance reviews of all products as they were produced. The classification was completed by the Sanborn Map Company, which incorporated the most recent aerial imagery, lidar, Landsat, and other supporting data sets.


Through the collaboration, the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership was able to capitalize on innovative mapping methods and approaches that had been used as part of C-CAP’s high-resolution efforts. As a result, the partnership was able to obtain a more detailed classification than initially planned with the budget they had available. While the data served through NOAA conform to C-CAP’s national standard, both products are very similar and will continue to benefit users when future updates to either product occur.

C-CAP High-Resolution Land Cover and High-Resolution Orthoimagery of the Lower Columbia Estuary
Left: high-resolution land cover classification map for the lower Columbia showing the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership’s classification. Right: same product classified according to the C-CAP scheme.

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