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June 1, 2005
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FLAIR Act proposed to inventory federal lands; New book on monuments to honor surveying; FSU gets new digital photogrammetry and GIS lab; ASPRS launches ASPRS Foundation Inc.; and DOI and NASA honor achievements in remote sensing.

Representative Chris Cannon speaks at a MAPPS conference about his proposed legislation to create a consolidated inventory of federal lands.

FLAIR Act Proposed to Inventory Federal Lands

On March 17, 2005, Representative Chris Cannon of Utah introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to create a comprehensive federal land inventory. Called the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform or "FLAIR" Act, the bill, H.R. 1370, would require the Secretary of the Interior to develop a multipurpose inventory or cadastre of federal real property to assist with federal land management, resource conservation and development of federal real property, including identification of any such property that is no longer required to be owned by the federal government.

MAPPS, a national association of private geospatial firms, is a strong supporter of the legislation. Rep. Cannon spoke to MAPPS at its annual Federal Programs Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 16. According to Cannon, "The federal government owns an estimated 670 million acres of land, almost one-third of all land in America. The key word is "˜estimated.' The fact is, we really don't know. To make matters worse, not only do we not know what the federal government owns, we also don't know what all the federal land is being used for, where its boundaries are located, or whether it is being put to its best use."

Consequently, key features of the FLAIR Act include: the authority for the Secretary of the Interior to enter into cost-sharing arrangements with states to include non-federal lands in the inventory; a requirement that the Secretary identify current inventories, their cost and a proposal for eliminating or consolidating duplicative inventories into a multi-purpose inventory; and an estimate of the cost savings that will be achieved by eliminating or consolidating unneeded real property inventories or any components of a cadastre currently authorized by law or conducted by the Department of the Interior that will become part of the multipurpose cadastre authorized by the FLAIR Act. The legislation also requires the Secretary to report the identity of the current inventories to Congress and include recommendations for any further legislation necessary to increase the cost savings and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of replacing, eliminating or consolidating real property inventories.

The bill also establishes participation in existing federal standards and protocols and coordination activities to assure interoperability of the inventory with other federal geographic information activities to avoid duplication, including the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and Geospatial One-Stop. It calls for use contracts with the private sector to the maximum extent possible to conduct the inventory, with such contracts following the traditional qualifications-based selection process. The FLAIR Act defines the inventory in a manner consistent with recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences in its 1980 report "Need for A Multipurpose Cadastre," and defines real property in a manner consistent with the accepted Black's Law Dictionary definition.

"Rep. Cannon's bill represents a long- standing need that government, at all levels, knows what it owns to address ways to make the best use of the land. We applaud this initiative and encourage Congress to pass this bill. We also hope that state and local governments take note of this bill and implement similar measures," said MAPPS President Ken Fleming.

"The Cannon Bill is one of those laws that just makes sense for America," said Susan Marlow, chair of the MAPPS Cadastre Task Force. "The federal government has a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of this country to have an accurate inventory of all real property assets. The United States is one of the few developed countries in the world that does not have a national property inventory. This bill defines the big-picture framework that will help fill the gaps left behind by individual local property inventories."

People interested in supporting the FLAIR Act should contact their Congres-sional representatives and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 1370.

Source: FLIGHTLINE (MAPPS newsletter) April 2005.

New Book on Monuments to Honor Surveying

Berntsen International, Madison, Wis., announced that it will publish a book honoring the beauty and importance of survey monuments of all kinds, and is turning to the surveying community for help. Rhonda Rushing, president of Berntsen, said, "Surveyors have been making their mark on America for generations, and their monuments are a link to the past, little gems and treasures that tell special stories and create unexpected beauty in out-of-the-way places. Survey monuments are the punctuation marks of our country's history. It's time to showcase the art and the stories, and to pay tribute to surveyors who have been marking the past-and the future-of our country for generations, doing their work humbly but also expertly. Berntsen International is proud to be bringing more attention to this little recognized aspect of our nation's greatness."

The book, to be titled History in the Marking, will be built around photographs of unique, beautiful, historically significant monuments, together with notes on their history. Berntsen is asking for help in acquiring high quality photographs of monuments from around the country. Detailed requirements are available at www.berntsen.com, including:

  • A high quality photo taken from directly above the monument; digital color photos are preferred.
  • A few pictures of the monument's surroundings.
  • A history of the monument, its significance and a description of how it was set.
  • Directions to the monument.
  • Latitude and longitude of the marker (a handheld GPS unit provides sufficient accuracy).
  • Contact information.
  • A release form authorizing Berntsen to use the photo.
Submissions will be accepted until Sept. 1, 2005. If the photo is included in the book, the photographer will be credited and will also receive a free copy, signed by Rhonda Rushing. This is a project that will shine a light on surveying's significant contribution to American history, and honor the monuments that have "˜held their post'-for a century or more in some cases-and survived to tell their tales. Submissions should be E-mailed to monumentbook@berntsen.com or mailed to: Berntsen International Inc., Attn: History in the Marking, P.O. Box 8670, Madison, WI 53708-8670.

FSU President David Eisler (left) presents a Presidents Club plaque to Lynda and John Fenn following the dedication of the Fenn Digital Photogrammetry and GIS Endowed Laboratory in the College of Technology.

FSU Gets New Digital Photogrammetry and GIS Lab

In April, a new photogrammetry and GIS laboratory was opened on the campus of Ferris State University (FSU) in Big Rapids, Mich.The John R. and Lynda D. Fenn Digital Photo-grammetry and GIS Endowed Laboratory, which is located in the university's Swan Technical Arts Building, is equipped with 15 stations loaded with Leica Photogrammetry Suite, Leica High Definition Surveying systems and ESRI ArcGIS 9.0 software. John Fenn and his wife Lynda are both active in scholarship and fundraising activities for FSU, and have endowed the laboratory as a way to support students in the surveying and engineering program now and in the future. John is president of Fenn and Associates Surveying Inc., Shelby Township, Mich., and serves on FSU's surveying and engineering program advisory board. Contributions to the laboratory are welcome; for further information or gift forms for the laboratory endowment fund, contact Debra Jacks, director of planned giving, at 231/591-3817 or jacksd@ferris.edu.

ASPRS Launches ASPRS Foundation Inc.

The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) launched the ASPRS Foundation Inc., an independently registered entity that will raise, invest and grant funds to the ASPRS Awards and Scholarships Program. This brings back to ASPRS the original American Society of Photogrammetry (ASP) Foundation initially formed in 1979, and later transformed to become the International Geographic Information Foundation (IGIF). James Plasker, executive director of ASPRS, negotiated an agreement with the Association of American Geographers (AAG), a sister society and longtime co-sponsor of the IGIF, to enable ASPRS to re-establish stewardship over the organization.

The ASPRS Foundation will establish an extensive and broad-based program that provides grants, scholarships, loans and other forms of aid to individuals or organizations pursuing knowledge of imaging and geospatial information science and technology, and their applications across the scientific, governmental and commercial sectors. A key short-term goal of the foundation is to fully endow all existing ASPRS awards and scholarships.

Contributions to the ASPRS Foundation are invited from individuals, businesses and organizations that see value in supporting its goals and programs. The foundation's trustees will review proposed large donations and any terms specified by the donor to ensure that the donation will legitimately and substantially enhance charitable programs and that any conditions associated with the donation can be met. ASPRS has currently set aside a total of $30,000 from the society's reserve fund to match individual ASPRS member and regional contributions to the foundation. This amount is likely to be increased in the future as donations accrue.

The ASPRS Foundation's activities, bylaws, operating procedures and board of trustees are listed on the website at www.asprsfoundation.org. Donations may be made online at www.asprsfoundation.org/ donate.

DOI and NASA Honor Achievements in Remote Sensing

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) received the prestigious William T. Pecora Award in recognition of 34 years of continuous and dedicated service in enabling access to and use of the nation's land remote sensing data. The William T. Pecora Award is sponsored jointly by the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to honor William Pecora, a former USGS director and DOI undersecretary, by recognizing outstanding contributions to understanding the earth by means of remote sensing.

Dr. Ghassem Asrar, NASA's science deputy associate administrator, and Dr. Charles "Chip" Groat, USGS director, representing the DOI, presented the Pecora Award to the EROS staff at the annual conference of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) in Baltimore, Md., on March 9, 2005.

Since its formation in 1971, the EROS center has been a persistent and innovative force in delivering civilian remotely sensed data to resource managers, scientists, decision makers, educators and the public worldwide. For more than 30 years, the EROS staff has preserved and upgraded remote sensing data archives and made those archives available to the world. Today, EROS serves as the nation's long-term remote sensing data archive and is host to the NASA Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center.

In addition, EROS staff members conduct creative research on a wide range of applications of remote sensing. They support global change research by producing global and regional data sets for change detection, as well as topography and land cover products. Researchers at EROS also develop innovative capabilities for wildfire management and early warning and assessment of hazards.

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