Just like your smart phone keeps track of where you are, helps you stay connected and organized, technology has helped Conservancy staff members to work more efficiently and help us accomplish greater results than ever before.
We now use GPS (global positioning system) devices to help us accurately track cogongrass, a non-native, invasive plant that grows and spreads very rapidly. A patch of cogongrass that is disturbed by mowing or vehicle tracks can grow up to 10 meters (30 feet) in one year—and parts of the plants stuck in clothing or on vehicles can be inadvertently moved to new areas.
Cogongrass is easiest to spot in the spring months, so plotting the patches in the spring allows our staff to easily find these sites again later in the season. By identifying the location and sizes of specific cogongrass patches, our staff members can not only treat the patches, but also track how effective the treatments are and plan for future treatments that might be needed to remove the plant from the area.
Planned, controlled fires
Conservancy staff members focusing on planned, controlled fires also utilize technology in their work. These staff members use a type of mapping software, GIS (Global Information Systems), to identify locations of our preserves, the areas that are planned to be burned, and the surrounding areas. These maps allow our staff, neighbors and partners easily identify the specific locations where we are planning on working so that everyone has identical, practical information. In addition, the GIS system is sometimes used to map the actual area that was impacted during the course of a particular planned, controlled fire. The map allows us to have an accurate record of the event and keep track of which areas were burned when.