GIS Seminar for LCCMR By Will Craig, University of Minnesota
The Governor's Council, with assistance from the MN GIS/LIS Consortium, presented a Natural Resources Data Seminar to LCCMR on June 6, 2007. LCCMR, the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, recommends environmental and natural resource projects to be funded by the state from the proceeds of the state lottery and other sources. Nearly $23 million in projects are funded in the current biennium. Many of the proposed projects had a GIS component - LCCMR members requested the seminar to increase their knowledge of GIS to help them make more informed decisions about recommending these projects.
The session was moderated by Will Craig, Associate Director for the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Tim Loesch, GIS Manager at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, provided background on the nature of GIS and followed with examples of the use of GIS in natural resources management and analysis. Steve Kloiber, Environmental Analyst at the Metropolitan Council, provided an overview of GIS data and how it is collected.
The seminar was very well received. The great majority of LCCMR members were present. They were quite engaged, asking pointed questions about data quality and data availability. One of the main points of the presentation was that a high quality collection of core data will be used many times, sometimes in innovative ways that lead to significant breakthroughs. The presentation also focused on the status of that core data and pointed to some significant weaknesses including old wetland maps, outdated land use data, and incomplete or inaccessible county parcel maps. Improving that data will require new funding. Commission members raised questions about inconsistent data from well-drillers and others responsible for point-level environmental data. Improving that data will require new rules and regulations. LCCMR also seemed quite interested in supporting a new survey of data and information needs for natural resource and environmental professionals.