Date of Award

5-31-2013

Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

M.S.

Keywords

Tamarisk eradication, invasive plant management, GIS, San Miguel River in western Colorado

Department

Geography

Abstract

Tamarisk, an invasive tree native to Eurasia, has become widespread in river corridors across the southwestern United States. Accused of excessive water consumption and degradation of native habitats, it has been the target of extensive eradication and restoration efforts. Identifying its ever-changing distribution and extent benefits natural resource managers tasked with planning and prioritizing invasive plant management activities.

The use of GIS tools and remotely sensed data offers the potential to speed and improve our ability to locate tamarisk distributions. This project searches for tamarisk by classifying land cover vegetation (including tamarisk) based on spectral reflectance values from three-band natural color digital orthophotos. The study area is a section of the San Miguel River in western Colorado, where an extensive tamarisk eradication and restoration project was completed in 2008. Recent site survey reports indicate that a few small, scattered tamarisk trees are beginning to reappear in the study area. While the overall classification was relatively accurate, it was unable to reliably classify the tamarisk category.

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