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2011 Environmental Excellence Awards

A collage of leaves.

Agencies Awarded:

North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR), Division of Water Quality

North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), Natural Environment Unit

Project Contributors:

Susan Gale
Periann Russell
Division of Water Quality Field Staff

Morgan Weatherford
Natural Environment Unit Field Staff

For Excellence in Environmental Research

GIS-based Wetland and Stream Predictive Models

When the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) attempted to streamline its alternatives study process by substituting field delineations of wetlands and streams with geographic information system (GIS)-based delineations, it discovered that existing data were insufficient. As a result, NCDOT partnered with the North Carolina Division of Water Quality (NCDWQ) to develop two GIS-based predictive models using light detection and ranging (LiDAR)-derived topographic data. The models generated spatial datasets for the North Carolina Carthage Bypass and Kinston Bypass projects that combined field-verified and model-produced wetlands and streams. These models enable reliable identification of wetland and stream locations using GIS, thereby reducing the time and cost of field delineations and providing early awareness of potential wetland impact areas during the initial project planning process. Models like those developed for the two pilot projects can also aid in educating citizens about the decisionmaking process related to protected resources. The results of the Carthage and Kinston Bypass models are being incorporated into a larger State-sponsored effort to provide up-to-date GIS data layers for public and private use. This project exemplifies how innovative technologies can be used to speed the environmental assessment process and ultimately advance transportation projects while protecting the environment.

Screenshot from one of the GIS-based predictive models showing a black and white satellite map overlaid with colored lines

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