August 10th 2016 - SLUG Meeting DiGISt

Minutes of the 29th Quarterly Salt Lake GIS Users Group (SLUG) meeting, held on August 10, 2016, from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm at the Department of Natural Resources (1594 W. North Temple) in Salt Lake City.  There were about 110 in attendance.

This meeting’s lunch was co-sponsored by UGIC and DNR. If you have any contacts that would be willing to “sponsor” a lunch by providing food/ drinks in exchange for giving a 5-minute plug about their company at the meeting, contact Tom Toronto, SLUG Board member.

Welcome and Introduction:

Wade Kloos, DNR GIS Manager

Wade said that DNR is pleased to be able to host this SLUG meeting.  DNR is 50 years old this year! He explained some of the DNR’s history, and that the 7 DNR divisions all use GIS as an enabling underlying technology.


Michael Duncan, SLUG Board

·     The next SLUG meeting will be on Nov 15, 2016 at the U of U in SLC. Hope you will be able to attend!

·     We are always in need of presenters. If you would like to present, or suggest someone who you’d like to see present, please contact Neal Fraser, SLUG Board member.

·     Michael said that this is the 29th SLUG mtg. and asked by a show of hands how many were attending for the first time? Quite a few raised their hands.  This is great that new people are joining.



Adventure begins where the pavement ends!

Kevin Bell, Salt Lake City GIS

Not all who wander are lost! There has been an uptick in folks interested in exploring and camping off their motorcycles, which is typically referred to as “Adventure Riding”.  Kevin showed a wonderful series of slides and movies, explaining what it takes to get out there and explore, from the route planning to the gear to carry.

He displayed a map of all his motorcycle routes on back roads across the state, color coded by speeds travelled (blue for 0-10 MPH, up through red for 90-100…), he prefers to think of it as “backpacking on a motorcycle”; using lightweight, minimalist gear. He uses GPS, Spot-tracker, and a satellite phone. Kevin outlined his preparation steps, using Google Earth, setting waypoints, etc. He’s rigged up a system to beep in his helmet whenever he passes a checkpoint; this helps him avoid getting off the correct path.

He takes pride in riding all the way to wherever UGIC is being held each year, using dirt roads as much as possible.

Kevin is a very conscientious rider, using a system of trail ethics that includes shutting off the motor to let horses go by on the trail. A great tip he shared for other off-road riders is a “Extraction Insurance”, which he says costs about $5 a year- it covers things like helicopter rescue.


GIS Strategic Plan at the Department of Wildlife Resources

Eric Edgely & Sam Hall, DWR

Eric and Sam’s presentation talked about how the Division of wildlife is further implementing GIS into its operations.  The influence of GIS in DWR is cruising at a new high with the ongoing implementation of a GIS Strategic Plan.

Eric showed a DWR film about what they do.  He followed that up with a photo of firefighters putting out a raging fire, and made comments about how many GIS people find themselves just “putting out fires”, i.e. responding to what’s urgent, but not necessarily important.  They’ve developed a vision of what they want to see GIS at DWR doing in 5 years and 10 years, and encouraged us to do the same.

Their plain is broken down into 9 areas, including Data Collection, Wildlife Nuisance Site Collection (an ArcGIS Collector App), Watershed Restoration Initiative, Sensitive Species Conservation (using AGOL to share data privately with specific other agencies), Wildlife Tracking, and the Utah Hunt Planner (which sense messages to registered permit holders about the conditions of the areas to which they will be going.) 

The Wildlife Tracking system was very interesting. Sam had prepared videos showing Migration Routes:

·       The daily movements of a single deer for 3 or so years, spending a lot of time moving about within a small specific area for the summer, then moving rapidly to the winter areas and spending a lot of time in a small area there. Quite rapid movements, since it’s speeded up to a couple of minutes or so.

·       The daily movements of a herd of elk. Similar to the above, but with a bunch of points all moving at once on the map.

·       Pelican Tracking- This one will be public shortly. Using it, he showed movements of about 30 pelicans within larger groups following their migration route from Montana through Utah to the Pacific coast of Mexico. Some birds didn’t follow the same routes as the others, which led to the discovery of previously-unknown routes and stopovers at water bodies in central Utah.  This tool allows better management and protection to take place.

·       The SLC Airport is calibrating their radar to better distinguish birds in flight paths, etc. by comparing archived radar tracking data with the placement of birds that were recorded via DWR tagging. Some interesting 3-D imagery was shown, with small spheres for the birds in relation to flight paths.


Geography Humor Segment 

Ray Montgomery, SLUG Board

Ray showed a short cartoon video from the Warner Brothers Animaniacs series, this one featuring Yakko Warner singing about time & time zones.  First verse: “When you're traveling from Nantucket …Through Chicago to St. Paul, …And you're standing at an airport …And you look upon the wall, …There's a clock for every city …And a different time for all …From Asia through Malaysia to Peru….   You can see most of the videos we’ve shown at SLUG meetings here on our YouTube channel.


Urban Forests, Wildfire Risk Assessment

Buck Ehler, Dept of Forestry, Fire and State Lands

Urban Forests: They’ve developed a Urban Tree Inventory App using Collector, that any city can use to collect and manage their tree inventory while adding to the statewide layer. He pointed out that prior to the data being collected, Ash trees, subject to the Emerald Ash Borer, comprised an estimated 25% of the known urban trees. After acquiring data from local agencies, though, it’s now at around 9%. This shows the value of local data collection- there’s less of a threat than previously thought. He also demonstrated an ESRI Dashboard app that has live pie charts of the % of tree species and other values.

Utah Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal:   This was just barely released to the public last week. You can visit it here:  It has both a Public and a Professional viewer portion. It is a state-sponsored, scientific, authoritative resource for assessing risk. 

It was built to support new state policies and initiatives, such as the 2013 Wildfire Reduction Strategy Report and the new 2016 Legislative Fire Police bills. One of these (SB122) will assist counties and communities financially in the event of a catastrophic wildfire IF they have done mitigation and risk reduction. He was excited because this is a good example of GIS being used as part of a State policy.

Our Portal is similar to those of 12 other Western states, but more advanced. It was constructed with the direction of fire behavior specialists. A term for this is a WRAP, or Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal. Ours, then, is UWRAP. The maps are very detailed, involving many layers that are combined into broad summaries of Risks and Threats. Together, these make an Effects rating.  Check out the site above to see this. You can drill down to expose the layer(s) that cause the most Effect. Effects can be broken down into types of Impact.


Google Imagery User Survey Results

Bert Granberg, AGRC Director

Bert showed a series of slides that analyzed the results of the survey about user satisfaction with the Google Imagery project in numerous ways.


Thank you to our presenters and our venue. If you have any ideas for a presentation or any other matter, please contact a SLUG board member.  And thanks for your interest and support!