March 14th, 2014
A partnership for the collaborative stewardship of the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) has been established at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), as an extension of the services provided by the Southeast Alaska GIS Library. NHD is the surface water component of the National Map; a cooperative effort among the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and other Federal, State, and local partners to improve and deliver topographic information to the nation. In 2002, the Forest Service entered into an agreement with USGS to adopt the NHD as the Forest Service standard dataset for streams in the Natural Resource Information System (NRIS) suite of corporate data applications. In 2008, all Forest Service applications, including NRIS, were combined to form Natural Resources Manager (NRM) to provide better coordination and interoperability between all Data Center applications: the NHD is fundamental to this interoperability.
As hydrography is an important component of Alaska''s GIS fabric and often is the foundation for other spatial layers, a data partnership, dubbed the Southeast Alaska Hydrography Database (SEAK Hydro) project, was established in 2010 by the Forest Service, UAS, USGS, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) in order to increase efficiencies and reduce costs associated with updating and maintaining the NHD, as well as provide local entities with hydrography attributes meeting a full range of local business requirements. Current SEAK Hydro stakeholders include USGS, ADF&G, the Tongass National Forest (TNF), and UAS.
In 2012, the success of the SEAK Hydro project led to the expansion of similar services to entities within south-central Alaska including the USGS, the Chugach National Forest, the Kenai Watershed Forum and UAS. The resulting south-central database was termed the Southcentral Alaska Hydrography Database (SCAK Hydro). Although southcentral and southeast Alaska are currently the only regions in Alaska with access to regionally specific hydrography databases, the model for regionally collaborative hydrography databases/stewardship nodes is being explored for statewide adoption. The proposed statewide network of stewardship nodes has collectively been termed the Alaska Hydrography Database (AK Hydro) and would be hosted across each of the three main University of Alaska campuses - UAS, the University of Alaska Anchorage, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
AK Hydro data comes in a straightforward, user-friendly format that is less costly to maintain than directly managing the NHD through USGS editing tools. The staff at UAS spatially track incoming edits from its partners thereby minimizing conflicts between editors from different agencies or offices. NHD, in turn, is updated from AK Hydro data by way of services provided by specialized staff at UAS.
Aquatic organism and habitat data including fish observations collected during field samples, locations of potential barriers to fish passage (i.e., bedrock waterfalls), locations of engineered fish passes, and locations of suitable anadromous fish habitat;
Physical features such as rivers, streams, glaciers, lakes, dams, intertidal areas, estuaries, salt chucks, and minimum low- and maximum high-tide shorelines;
Stream geomorphology information including fluvial process groups, stream channel gradient, stream pattern, stream bank incision, and stream containment;
Regulatory fishing information integrated from the state''s Anadromous Waters Catalog;
Stream networks that allow upstream or downstream tracing from dams, gauges, fish barriers, and contaminants.
AK Hydro data is publically available through the UAS GIS Library. The project is currently seeking new partners who are interested in providing additional data and/ or assisting with the editing process as well as entities that are in need of services for uplifting their hydrography information into NHD. Funding assistance to support AK Hydro is also desired. AK Hydro will contribute to building a better GIS in Alaska and beyond by providing the best available information to partners and stakeholders while ensuring the NHD is accurate, reliable, and up to date.
In July of 2011, SEAK Hydro received a Special Achievement in GIS award at the 2011 Esri International User Conference in San Diego. The award is given annually to recognize outstanding work with GIS technology and the SEAK Hydro project stood out from more than 100,000 others. ADF&G, TNF, UAS and USGS were acknowledged as co-recipients of the award.
Please contact the AK Hydro Technical Steward at UAS for further information about the AK Hydro project.