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ES Student Profile
Kevin Fritze '07
Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance
I spent the summer of 2005 working for Executive Director Mike Little of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA). The BRCA is a land trust that owns lands and holds easements for conservation and public recreation purposes. Prior to my time there, they were limited in their long-term planning abilities by a lack of maps of the area that suited their operations. I spent my summer providing them with maps to help them in their long-term planning.
The primary map resources they turned to in the past are town tax maps. These provide detailed lot boundary information that can be used in putting together a large piece of protected property. Tax maps are difficult to use on a large scale, however, because each town is broken down into many different sections in order to get the appropriate amount of detail onto the maps, which were on 11x17 in. paper (the town of Rome has over 30 maps). Thus it is difficult to see larger areas, making it difficult to envision a large scale, long term plan. The bulk of my work revolved around making digital versions of these tax maps that could then be put together into a large map of a given area displaying multiple tax maps at once.
After scanning each tax map on the beautiful new large format scanner acquired by the Biology department, I used ESRI’s ArcEditor 9.0 on the computers in Olin 235 to digitize the maps. This I did by tracing each line with the mouse until each lot boundary had been copied into the new layer that was being created to represent the tax map I was digitizing. The amount of time this process took was staggering. By the end of the summer I had completed digitizing all of the town of Rome, most of Mount Vernon, and several maps in Vienna and New Sharon. Luckily, Belgrade had been digitized previously and I was able to acquire that data. I was hoping to get more towns done when I first started, but it quickly became apparent that I had underestimated the amount of time digitizing takes (I now have a very healthy appreciation for it, and for people that spent long periods of time digitizing the data now so readily available to me through various government organizations). I digitized each town in order to provide a map of the area that was to be discussed at various meetings the BRCA’s committees were having throughout the summer. They were very pleased to have a single map that showed the entire area they were discussing, rather than having to sift through multiple tax maps to get a similar view.
The other major part of my internship was the creation of a large map (4’x5’) to be displayed on the wall at the BRCA’s office in Belgrade Lakes. I used USGS topographic maps of the area as a base layer for the map, and draped them over a hillshade of the area which gave the map a 3D feel. This was done because for many years Mike Little had taped together USGS topo maps of the area and had them tacked up on the wall, and I thought it would help people get oriented if they were looking at a similar map. I then added watershed boundary lines to indicate the outer boundary of the whole Belgrade Lakes region, which was important to them. The main piece of information is the conserved land layer that shows all of the conserved properties that we knew of at the time throughout the region. This large-scale map allows Mike and the BRCA to get much clearer vision of where the various conserved properties are in the region, and facilitates the long-term, large-scale planning that Mike has wanted to do for a long time.
Overall I am very pleased with the way my internship turned out. I got some very valuable experience working with GIS and with the BRCA, and they have already benefited from the new maps. Hopefully this will mark the beginning of an ongoing relationship between Colby’s GIS program and the BRCA, providing opportunities for students like myself to get valuable experience working with the software as well as with people on a real world project, and providing the BRCA with a resource they can turn to for assistance in their conservation efforts.
I would also like to mention and thank Professor Nyhus for his making this internship possible and for assisting me during my work over the summer.