The BLM Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (LCR MSCP) is charged with improving habitat for endangered avian species at multiple conservation areas along the Lower Colorado River, with the goal of providing conditions that are favorable to population recovery. Planning for habitat improvement requires land classification data including vegetation type, vegetation structure, and open water extent and depths. A mechanism is needed to evaluate field conditions and to measure the results of LCR MSCP management efforts against mandated requirements. Field-based data collection techniques for both vegetation type and structure are time-consuming and costly, and can be somewhat subjective, leading to problems with multi-year trend analyses. The Program is now using the power of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing technologies to streamline land classification data collection and analysis in a cost-effective and repeatable manner. Natural color and color infrared aerial imagery is used with lidar point clouds to map vegetation type, while lidar data are used to determine water depths and vegetation structure. Image and lidar data have been collected for 3 years and additional annual acquisitions are planned. Consistent analysis procedures allow for more reliable time series analysis for each conservation area. The example provided here is of the Beal Lake Conservation Area, which lies on the Colorado River just south of Needles, California. Similar data have been collected for an additional seven sites along the Colorado River between the Davis Dam and the international border with Mexico.
The figure shows the 2014 point cloud with a profile of a portion of the area. The table shows a 2014–2016 time series of vegetation structure types obtained from lidar data for selected sites within the Beal Lake Conservation Area, with CW = Cottonwood - Willow, HM = Honey Mesquite. Roman numeral classification corresponds to Anderson & Ohmart Structure Classification.