Prairie Island Indian Community Uses GIS to Prioritize Habitat Restoration Efforts: Identifying Distribution of Invasive and Culturally Important Plants
By Kyle Herdina, Prairie Island Water Resource Specialist
The Prairie Island Indian Community has been utilizing GIS software in conjunction with Garmin GPS and Trimble Juno units to actively manage tribal lands for invasive species and for species that hold cultural and medicinal importance. The result of these efforts led to the establishment of a much needed management tool.
In Summer 2008, all of Prairie Island lands were surveyed for plant community information and invasive plant distribution. Over 350 waypoints were collected, and a polygon shapefile combined with aerial map analysis was created displaying habitat cover. In addition to this shapefile, we created an extensive database consisting of locations of invasive plants, their densities, plant community types, and hyperlinked photos for each waypoint.
From this database, waypoints can then be extracted to create a map displaying locations of invasive plants across the entire reservation. The waypoints can display density information so intensive efforts can be targeted to specific locations. In August of 2009, for example, all waypoints with buckthorn present were extracted onto a new map and symbolized to show where buckthorn was present as well as its abundance. This map was then provided to the contractors so that they could focus their efforts on waypoints where the highest densities were found.
Also in 2009, the Prairie Island lands were again surveyed for plants of cultural and medicinal importance to the tribe. This data will be integrated into the current plant community database. From this database, the natural resource managers will be able to preserve and protect cultural resources on Prairie Island which contain cultural plants such as sage and plum trees for tribal members to continue to use into the future.