Private, County and State Entites Collaborate to Track Surveys and Treatments in Coconino County, Arizona 

 

Article written by Jami Clark, Arizona iMapInvasives Data Administator

December 2016

 

In 2005, the Arizona Invasive Species Advisory Council (AISAC) was established by Executive Order 2005-09 and was charged with developing a coordinated, multi-stakeholder approach to dealing with invasive species issues. Under the joint leadership of the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) and the Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADOA), by January 2007 the AISAC was instituted as a permanent body. As a result, the AISAC determined that Arizona would establish a statewide, collaborative, information management system, which would be written into the invasive species management plan as the state’s main database for invasive species location information. By their connection to NatureServe through the AGFD-housed State Natural Heritage Program, the Heritage Data Management System (HDMS), they were introduced to the iMapInvasives project.

 

AGFD staff – specifically the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program and the HDMS – had to weigh the options for launching a statewide collaborative database (i.e. building their own tool, or adopting one that already exists), and in the end, determined that adopting iMapInvasives was the right choice for Arizona. Part of this decision was based on their recognition that iMapInvasives offers the ability to track not only simple point observation records  but advanced polygon records such as assessment, surveys, and treatments, and therefore, it has a wide range of applicability for land managers across the state.

Since the 2011 launch of Arizona’s iMapInvasives, the capability to bulk upload point observation data has played a significant role in allowing the State to aggregate existing datasets. In terms of the advanced polygon records, however, often partners are encouraged to enter these records manually using the online iMapInvasives interface instead of by bulk upload. Some partners have voiced that because they already collect polygon data in their own database structure, they do not want to duplicate efforts by manually re-entering their records into iMapInvasives. This year, fortunately, the AGFD worked with a company to pave the way for easier bulk upload of partner polygon data to reduce (and possibly eliminate) the need for manual data entry.​

Employees from Natural Channel Design, Inc. digging Diffuse Knapweed (Centaurea diffusa) during their 2016 removal efforts along right-of-ways in Coconino County.

An engineering firm called Natural Channel Designs, Inc., which specializes in river and stream assessments and restoration, recognized the benefit of integrating their polygon data into iMapInvasives. Each survey season, a county in Northern Arizona, Coconino County, hires a contractor to perform road surveys and weed treatments. This year, they hired Natural Channel Design, Inc. to perform some work as well as write a weed treatment plan for use by future contractors. To help prepare their efforts, Natural Channel Design, Inc. searched for existing datasets throughout the state to see where there had been surveys in the past—but when looking at iMapInvasives, they began to visualize the potential for the future. They realized that it would have been helpful to them if previous contractors had entered all of their data into iMapInvasives. By doing so, it would have allowed the county to retrieve the data from a central location at the end of the season, and for the contractors to keep track of the work that had been done in past years. In order to uphold this vision, Natural Channel Design, Inc. and AGFD collaborated to smooth out the process of bulk uploading polygons.

 

The first step in this collaboration was to build a mutual understanding of the capabilities in iMapInvasives, including the possibilities for entering various data types, the numerous fields to include in the data, and how to extract the data once it is in the system. After that foundation was built, AGFD needed to see what type of polygons Natural Channel Design, Inc. had already drawn and what tabular information they captured within them. From there, the two entities decided which fields would be included in the upload to iMapInvasives, a process that required flexibility on both ends and some extra time processing data. Natural Channel Design, Inc., for example, was asked to add fields to their data in order to adhere to some of the iMapInvasives requirements. AGFD, on the other hand, had to sort through and re-format the taxonomic information provided in the dataset. The process was not seamless, but required communication and effort by both parties in order to make it a successful exchange.

The outcome of this collaboration was that AGFD documented the process of submitting data, which will be given to future contractors, and developed a spreadsheet and geodatabase template that will be easy for contractors

Natural Channel Design, Inc. helped AGFD staff (iMapInvasives administrator) design and implement a bulk upload process to easily incorporate treatment and survey data collected by partners into the statewide iMapInvasives dataset. This will allow future contractors to view past surveys and treatments and aid them in planning and prioritizing future work.

to use when uploading their existing data. In addition, because the two entities took the time to work together, and had the vision to think into the future, Coconino County will have a long-term data management plan, future contractors will easily be able to plan their efforts by using the data in iMapInvasives, and the AGFD will continue to build a comprehensive database of invasive species information across the state.

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