A&A Helps the Environment through GIS

How does one preserve the environment while allowing for future economic development?

Through the use of GIS, Anderson & Associates, a tri-state professional design services firm headquartered in Blacksburg, Va., helps to solve these environmental issues—starting with the Dragon Run Watershed.

The Dragon Run Watershed has been recognized by the Smithsonian Institution as one of the most pristine watersheds in the country. As part of a movement to maintain the quality of the ecosystem, the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission (MPPDC) recognized that an environmental GIS would benefit the stewardship of the 90,000-acre watershed and contracted Anderson & Associates to develop a spatial tool to serve in the administration of the watershed.

Through the Anderson & Associates GIS project, the MPPDC’s goal is to identify and quantify the economic value of the watershed’s traditional uses, including wildlife, timber and agriculture. Using the GIS, the MPPDC will examine the capacity for development, the ecological and environmental ramifications of development, and zoning trends in the multi-county area of the watershed.

To create the Dragon Run Watershed GIS, Anderson & Associates acquired digital data and processed it, focusing on the pertinent values for the area. They then worked to compile the data in layers for visual display. Using ArcExplorer, the GIS team created a project CD that allows users to view the data from the convenience of their own computers.

To educate GIS professionals and government officials about the Dragon Run Watershed project, Daniel Powell, GIS project manager, and Lewie Lawrence, director of regional planning for the MPPDC, presented a “Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan” session at the Virginia GIS conference held last November. The session showed how GIS can benefit environmental issues, and demonstrated the importance of public and private partnerships in GIS projects.

“The Dragon Run Watershed project is unique in that it allows us to work across jurisdictional lines to protect and preserve environmental resources, and it ultimately unites four local governments under one planning umbrella for watershed protection,” Lawrence said. c

Anderson & Associates Inc. has offices in Richmond, Fredericksburg and Middletown, Va., Greensboro, N.C., and the tri-cities area of Tennessee. The firm specializes in civil and environmental engineering, surveying, planning and landscape architecture. In addition to traditional engineering services, Anderson & Associates offers value-added services including Geographic Information Systems, Information Technology services, digital site simulations, database development, and web site hosting and design. For more information about Anderson & Associates, visit the firm’s website at www.andassoc.com.

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