Sitka Technology Group

Columbia Land Trust Implements UAV-based Monitoring Trial

As an early adopter of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to gather high-resolution data in the estuary, our client–Columbia Land Trust–has implemented a UAV-based monitoring trial to detect, monitor, and manage invasive reed canarygrass, marsh vegetation development, and other physical features within restoration areas. 

In 2014, the land trust dug three miles of channels, breached a levee, and built mounds of excavated earth to approximate historic conditions and re-establish Sitka-spruce swamp habitat across the 163-acre Kandoll Farm property. More than a year later, the land trust shifted its focus from active restoration to effectiveness monitoring. As discussed in a recent Columbia Land Trust featured story, they wanted to secure the answers to the following questions:

  • Was water flowing through the channels restoring wetland conditions as anticipated?
  • Were invasive species such as reed canarygrass outpacing native planting efforts?
  • Had the topography changed after a year of rain and flooding?

Using our Sitka FlightPath™ service, we flew a round of initial flights during the recent winter dormant season (February 2016) and captured nearly 3,000 compressed images (15 gigabytes) across 345 acres. After the land trust’s initial review of the data they stated, "At first glance, it's clear that digital terrain models from UAV flights offer and efficient and accurate way to monitor and measure change on our lands. We can adapt our management plans in response to our findings, and ultimately work smarter toward our restoration goals."

I encourage you to read the complete Columbia Land Trust story here:

* The following image is one of the aerial photos taken during Columbia Land Trust's February Sitka FlightPath flight. 

Devil's Elbow UAV Flight