One of the aspects of my role at Esri that I enjoy the most is learning about the amazing and impactful work our users are doing every day. It is my job to share their great work in hopes that it will inspire others to do the same. As someone who loves being outdoors, I am fortunate to focus on our natural resources users, those that are working every day to restore, protect and preserve our environment.
GIS Heroes at the Environment and Natural Resources Special Interest Group Meeting
This past summer at the annual Esri User Conference (Esri UC), we were able to celebrate three organizations that are paving the way for environmental agencies, using GIS in innovative ways to achieve their goals. As part of our Environment and Natural Resources Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting, we asked these users to share their achievements, best practices, and lessons learned in hopes that others will be inspired to be GIS champions within their own organizations.
If you haven’t been to the Esri UC before, you are probably wondering, what the heck is an Environment and Natural Resources SIG? Well this is the event where all your like-minded GIS buddies, who are also passionate about natural resources, come together (either virtually or in-person) to share ideas and get to know one another. Of course, your dedicated Esri staff, Mike Bialousz, Sunny Fleming and I are there as well, to help guide the conversation and share the latest GIS tools.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to meet in person this year. However, one positive to the meeting being virtual is that it was recorded, and we can now share it with you! The highlights for sure, are our rock star users.
- Missouri State Parks shared how they are using GIS to develop a central asset inventory management program. Debbie Briedwell, GIS manager, and Jon Haslag, GIS specialist, discussed how they also implemented Esri’s field apps to streamline how they tracked assets in 91 state parks. Park regions are now able to plan and prioritize repairs and replacement efforts. Also, more programs within the parks system are now able to see the value of a unified GIS approach.
- South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks shared their great success using Esri’s ArcGIS Solutions for Recreation Outreach to help aggregate, manage, and analyze foundational data from their license permitting systems. Taniya Bethke, divisions staff specialist and R3 coordinator, Kyle Kaskie, GIS program specialist, and Ross Scott, division staff specialist and GIS coordinator, explained how their new approach enabled them to generate critical statistics and visualize trends spatially to make sense of the vast amount of licensing data. These new capabilities enabled agency wide teams to glean insights and actionable intelligence from the numbers they were seeing, empowering them to create and execute highly effective recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) outreach campaigns.
- Joe Lemeris, the GIS/Data Manager at South Carolina Natural Heritage Program, discussed how his organization is leveraging ArcGIS Enterprise and the Esri Enterprise Advantage Program to improve species data collection and accessibility to stakeholders.
However, this is just a quick synopsis. You will definitely want to check out the full recording below.
Special Achievement in GIS Award – Missouri State Parks
Another opportunity we have to honor our users’ great work is to present them with a Special Achievement in GIS Award. Each year at the Esri UC we select a user in each industry that truly stands out from the rest; a user that has completely embraced and elevated the role of GIS within their organization. This year the user that was awarded with the Special Achievement in GIS award for Natural Resources and Environment is Missouri State Parks.
As they presented at the SIG, Missouri State Parks has transformed their GIS to support the growing need of information with the implementation of ArcGIS Online. In addition to what they already highlighted, their long list of accomplishments also includes:
- An asset management inventory solution for park structures and their associated major systems
- The Katy Advisory Map application which provides near-real time advisories and closures on the Katy Trail, America’s longest “rails-to-trails” project that runs along the Missouri River
- The Hazard Tree Application which is a field collection app for hazardous tree inspections and the monitoring/mitigation of any trees that pose a risk
- Providing staff in over 91 state parks and historic sites with a robust GIS solution for park stewardship, planning, management, and information sharing
- A Cultural Resource Management Program that provides an inventory of historic buildings throughout the state park system, collecting information about their historic significance & maintenance needed
Check out this story map from Missouri State Parks for more details on their projects.
Be A GIS Hero
Although all agencies operate slightly differently, their overall goals and workflows are often not unique. We know that hearing from others overcoming similar challenges can help you overcome roadblocks and inspire you to be your own GIS hero. That is why we will continue to provide you with the inspiring stories you need to continue pushing the envelope with GIS.
To see our vast collection of user stories, you can now visit our new Environment and Natural Resources Community page.
As our users’ work is always evolving, so are our user stories. Make sure you sign up to be notified of the latest Environment and Natural Resources news.