The University of Washington, Bothell Campus, along with Cascadia Community College, restored a portion of North Creek wetlands as part of a mitigation contract. Planting projects began from 1998 to 2002 in phases. In an effort to visualize how the wetlands have changed in twenty years, my GIS-partner Dawn Hatfield and I converted these original planting maps into digital layers using ArcGIS.
Bringing Baseline Data into the 21st Century: Digitizing restoration planting data in the North Creek Wetland
A North Creek Wetlands geodatabase has been created and is comprised of current plant communities (i.e., groups of plant species living in similar environmental conditions) in the North Creek Wetland restoration site. These plant community inventories include species types and their locations. GPS technology is used to record the plant groupings, and a geographic information system (ESRI-GIS) is used to map this data.
The geodatabase gives us a snapshot of the present plant communities, however, there is no original planting data available. The information for the “as-built” plans is paper based. The lack of historical digital data prohibits comparisons of “Before” and “After” and the resulting relationships that can be investigated. The ability to compare these two data sets temporally and spatially would provide invaluable knowledge to expand on-going research of the wetlands as well as add to the body of knowledge available for other wetland restorations.
The original plans from 2002 documented two hundred planting polygons available as pdf files. In order to compare the existing community plant data with the original data, the as-built map must be digitized and georeferenced. Each polygon digitized will include the species lists and relevant data embedded within the map.
Updating the format from paper to a digital creates the opportunity to easily analyze spatial and temporal variations that have occurred. Without this baseline information, any analysis may miss an important perspective. Research questions could relate to restoration practices, monitoring and maintenance, plant community distribution, and invasive species cover.
Creation of a georeferenced layer of “as-built” plans allows for baseline data and in-depth research opportunities. The research could also add to the science of restoration ecology and best practices in wetland restoration.