GIS to help ranchers manage natural resources

Texas Cooperative Extension will present an introductory Geographic Information System workshop at 8:30 a.m. July 12 at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center in San Angelo.

The workshop, titled "Geographic Information Systems for Natural Resource Managers in West Texas: Exploring the Possibilities,"will introduce the technology to range managers.

Two later workshops, set for Aug. 29-30 and Sept.19 at the center, will offer in-depth instruction on several commonly used facets of the satellite technology, according to Dr. Dale Rollins, Extension wildlife specialist at San Angelo. .

"Back in 1997, we introduced the concept of selective brush control, what we now call 'Brush Sculpting,' as a way to enhance wildlife habitat," Rollins said. "Back then, Brush Sculpting meant lots of flagging tape to define the areas for brush removal. Today it means a global positioning unit and a computer on the bulldozer or on the spray plane doing the control work."

A global positioning system - commonly known as "GPS" - is usually a hand-held unit that uses satellite technology to pinpoint geographical positions, Rollins said. And a Geographic Information System incorporates GPS and other databases for "a communication support-type interface."

"Simply put: GPS is the 'bullet,' component of the system and GIS is the 'rifle,'" Rollins said.

Topics at the July 12 meeting will concentrate on how to develop and implement brush sculpting and range monitoring plans.

"We'll also discuss how GIS has opened new windows relative to counting wildlife and managing a quail-hunting operation," Rollins said. "They've even got a GPS unit for bird dogs that allows the hunter to keep up with the whereabouts of up to 15 dogs simultaneously."

Individual pre-registration, which includes lunch, is $15 by July 10 and $25 at the door.

The Aug. 29-30 workshop is an introduction to ARC/GIS software. Individual registration is $375. The training is an Environmental Systems Research Institute - certified training in ArcView 9.2. Environmental Systems Research Institute markets ArcView.

The Sept. 19 daylong "Geospatial Field Day" will feature hands-on training on various equipment used in the field. Individual registration which includes lunch, is $25 in advance and $35 at the door. Consult the TeamQuail Web site to view the workshop's agenda.

For more information on any of the three workshops, call Rollins at 325-653-4576 or Steve Sturtz, Extension agent in Tom Green County at 325-659-6525.

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