Minnesota High Resolution Elevation Dataset is Becoming a Reality! By Tim Loesch, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
In June 2009, the Minnesota Legislature appropriated $5.6 million towards the completion of a statewide, high-resolution elevation dataset derived using LiDAR technology. The money was funded from the Clean Water portion of the Minnesota Conservation Legacy Amendment passed by the citizens of the state in November 2008. The project was championed by the Governor’s Council on Geographic Information Digital Elevation Committee and spearheaded by Les Everett from the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center.
The goal of this effort will be to publish a publicly available high-resolution/high-accuracy elevation dataset that covers the entire state.
Legislators were eager to support this project after being convinced that the availability of this data would support Clean Water projects over the course of the 25-year lifespan of the legacy amendment - predicted to be $1.5 billion. In the Legislature, bills were introduced by Representative Rick Hanson and Senator Ellen Anderson and received bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. The funds were appropriated to the Department of Natural Resources with 2.5% to MnGeo for coordination and distribution purposes.
Now the hard work begins and there is much to do.
Project planning is underway with a core working group from the Digital Elevation Committee consisting of Tim Loesch (MnDNR), Pete Jenkins (Mn/DOT), Chris Cialek (MnGeo) and Ron Wencl (USGS). Our first order of business is to put together a small working group of 8-10 interested parties to help steer the project specifications and deliverables, specify the project areas, generate a Request for Proposals (RFP), award a contract and oversee the project as it unfolds over the course of the next two to three years.
The project will start in the southwest part of state, focusing on the Minnesota River Watershed, proceeding northeast through the central part of the state and into the Arrowhead region. The initial data collection will start in Spring 2010 and, based on past experiences with LiDAR projects, data should start being delivered to the state roughly six months after the collect is complete. At a minimum, elevation points, two-foot contours and one-meter digital elevation models will be the data delivered. Edge-of-water breaklines are a desired product (depending on the cost). It is anticipated that approximately 44,000 square miles of data will be collected – a bit more than half the state – as part of this project.
Three meetings are being scheduled in Marshall, Mankato and Worthington in September to meet with local officials and staff to gather local input, to communicate the plans of the project, and to let them know how they can help.
As Representative Hanson put it, “The legislature got you the dollars, now go out and show us what you can do!”