The USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) is producing a seamless vegetation map of Great Smoky Mountains (GRSM) National Park. The UMESC has been conducting vegetation mapping for the National Park Service (NPS) for over a decade. These highly accurate and highly detailed vegetation maps are used by individual parks to manage lands and conduct research. High-resolution (0.305-m or better) 4-band digital imagery was collected during peak fall color. For GRSM, this meant three separate flights for the entire park to capture the progression of fall color from the highest to lowest portions of the park. This imagery is used in a 3D digitizing platform to distinguish vegetation at the Alliance and Association level of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification (USNVC) across the entire park. This project, initiated in 2015, is projected to be delivered to the NPS in 2021.
The progression of fall color in 2015, in color infrared, from September 24 (left), to October 17 (center), to October 30 (right) north of the Newfound Gap parking area in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.