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Merrick & Company Wins Engineering Excellence Award: Bald Eagle Habitat Hyperspectral and LiDAR Project

Aurora, CO USA – Merrick & Company, a world leader in LiDAR, digital ortho imaging, photogrammetry, and geospatial solutions received the Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado for a prototype project delivered to the Kansas City and Omaha districts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project’s purpose was to determine if a combination of simultaneously collected spatial data, including LiDAR (light detection and ranging), digital color aerial photography, and hyperspectral imagery via remote sensing technologies is a feasible technical solution to inventory and quantify existing and future eagle habitat along the Missouri River.

“This was a great project to demonstrate how the fusion of three disparate remotely sensed data sources can solve real world problems such as assessing the location and condition of bald eagle habitat,” says Brian Raber, head of the GeoSpatial Solutions Business Unit at Merrick. “We’re all proud of the success of the project and have concluded with our client that the approach is technically feasible for the remaining 735 miles of the river.”

According to ACEC, “Projects from all over the world are rated on the basis of: uniqueness and originality; future value to the engineering profession and perception by the public; social, economic, and sustainable development considerations; complexity; and successful fulfillment of client/owner’s needs, including schedule and budget.”

The remotely sensed data provided by Merrick was used to generate digital elevation models (DEM) of bald earth and the canopy for the basis of this study. Color digital aerial photography and hyperspectral imagery were overlaid onto the LiDAR DEMs to model three-dimensional land cover and vegetation species delineation for conservation planning and environmental impact assessments. The final results of this 22 square mile prototype project indicated that this new method of fusing remote sensing technologies is technically feasible. Merrick demonstrated that this integration methodology of remote sensing technologies will increase the accuracy and reduce the schedule of the congressionally mandated Missouri Mitigation project.

The 1986 U.S. Congress created the Water Resources Development Act to authorize construction of the Missouri River Mitigation Project to mitigate fish and wildlife habitat losses resulting from past channelization and flood control. Presently, the area to be mitigated is about 261 square miles, which extends approximately 735 linear miles from Sioux City, Iowa, to the mouth of the Missouri River near St. Louis, Missouri.

Learn more about ACEC of Colorado at

About Merrick & Company

Founded in Denver in 1955, Merrick & Company is a world-leading geospatial solutions, surveying, multidisciplinary engineering, architectural, and construction management firm. The employee-owned company provides these services to municipal, state, federal, and private-sector clients. With approximately 400 employees, Merrick has offices in Aurora and Colorado Springs, CO; Los Alamos and Albuquerque, NM; Atlanta, GA, Ottawa, Canada; Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico; Bogota, Colombia.

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