This research project is aimed at developing and testing methods for enhancing the capacity of rural communities to use geographic information system (GIS) technology to facilitate increased participation in ecosystem management, land use planning, and other local activities. The Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon is a pilot area for this research study. The project was initiated in Spring of 1994. Funding for the first phase ended in October of 1994 when the interim report and the Applegate Working Atlas were completed. After a hiatus of over one year, funding was reinitiated through an additional cooperative agreement in November, 1995. The following is a brief description of project goals and methods employed.
Interrain Pacific's research project is designed to identify and test appropriate methods for enhancing the capacity of rural communities to use geographic information system (GIS) technology to allow residents to participate more fully in ecosystem management, land use planning, and other local activities. The Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon and the Applegate Adaptive Management Area (AMA) is the pilot area for this project.
The primary research goals of this project are to:
The working hypothesis of this project is that information access increases opportunities for public participation and trust, and can lead to greater information exchange and modification of information. Emphasis is placed on the development of methods for establishing local sustainable processes for accessing and using information and on assessing and testing methods for increasing local knowledge and skills. There are four primary objectives to the on-the-ground implementation of the project:
Interrain Pacific's primary funding source for the research project is a cooperative agreement with the Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW). [PNW is a regional unit within the research branch of the USDA Forest Service.] Interrain Pacific has also received a small grant from a private foundation to supplement the local knowledge component of the project. The cooperative agreement with PNW ran through July, 1997.
Three public access GIS stations were developed through the Project: the Project computer at the Ruch library, the Forest Service public access computer at the Star Ranger Station in Applegate; and an additional station supported by the Williams Communiversity at the Williams School computer lab.
Interrain Pacific purchased a Macintosh-compatible computer specifically for the Project. The Project computer is a Power Computing PowerWave 604/120 -- 120Mhz PowerPC 604 CPU with 1GB hard drive, 32MB RAM, CD-ROM, 17" Sony Multiscan monitor, and Macintosh OS System 7.5. The computer is the property of Interrain Pacific.
The primary software of interest on the computer, is ArcView version 2.1, made by Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI). ArcView 2.1, is a powerful, easy-to-use tool that allows users to visualize, explore, query, and--to a limited extent--analyze data spatially. The ArcView GIS software on the project computer is licensed to the Applegate Partnership.
As an authorized distributor of ArcView to non-profit organizations, Interrain Pacific facilitated ESRI's donation of two ArcView licenses to the Applegate Partnership and one to the Williams Communiversity (both are 501c3 non-profit organization).
The role of the Project computer and the Applegate database is to provide residents of the Applegate area access to geographic information and other data relevant to the management and allocation of land and resources in the Applegate Valley. The project computer with ArcView 2.1 is in the Ruch Community Library where it is available for public use during normal library hours. Groups may make arrangements to use the equipment during off-hours on the same basis as other meetings of community organizations by calling (541) 899-7438.
The Macintosh-compatible project computer was selected specifically with public accessibility in mind and requires very limited computer skills. Also, the ArcView software was designed by ESRI for a wide audience, but being a fairly sophisticated tool, it still requires some initial training. More importantly, the use of any geographic information system requires some basic understanding of spatial analysis concepts in order to allow users to ask challenging questions of available information.
Interrain Pacific initiated a training program aimed at the Applegate community to facilitate the use of these information tools by the general public. An underlying objective of the training element is to develop sufficient local skills to allow members of the community to train each other. Training consists of:
Extensive digital spatial data have been developed for the Applegate area by a number of public entities. Having been created from public funds, most of this information is available to the public. Nonetheless, extensive work is often required to acquire data and associated documentation and present it in a form that is relatively usable for a wide audience. Most of the data for the Applegate database was developed by Interrain Pacific from these sources.
The following are some of the primary sources of publicly funded GIS base data and other information related to the Applegate ecosystem.
Much of the existing geographic data for the Applegate Valley is inconsistent or incomplete across the entire area, particularly at scales greater than 1:100,000. The resolution and accurary of information is often insufficient for sub-watershed or even watershed scale ecosystem analysis and management. Inconsistent and incomplete data is largely an artifact of divided jurisdictions and fragmented ownership and administration of land within the Applegate watershed. The watershed crosses two states and three counties and includes federal land in two national forests and two BLM resource areas. Current stream data provides one of numerous examples of the information incompatibilities that emerge from this situation. The BLM has developed stream data from 1:4,800 scale aerial photo interpretation while the US Forest Service has relied on 1:24,000 scale stream data taken from Forest Service Cartographic Feature files. In the Applegate, the latter data has obvious anomalies between adjacent 7.5' quads. Neither set of data cover the entire AMA, confounding any watershed level analysis involving streams.
Several factors complicate the ability of small community organizations and the general public from aquiring ecosystem information developed by public agencies.
People who live and work within or near particular ecosystems know much about them. The "capture" of this "local knowledge" can reveal a critical understanding of resources, patterns and process that may not be part of the common scientific information base. By developing a formal documentation process, local knowledge can augment existing scientific data. Interrain Pacific worked with members of the Applegate community to:
The resulting local knowledge database of historic stream conditions in the Williams area includes photos and text from individual interviews tied to geographic base data.
The project is administered by Interrain Pacific. The principal investigator and Interrain Pacific's project coordinator is Sam Doak.
Interrain Pacific, formerly Pacific-GIS, is a not-for-profit corporation based in Portland. As an organization, Interrain Pacific has three objectives: (1) to empower communities with knowledge, (2) to connect collaborators, and (3) to track bioregional trends. Please contact Interrain Pacific for additional information regarding this research project.