CTSP Newsletter (Web Version) PAGE 11
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CTSP Grantee Stories, Successes and Struggles

GIS in the Maine Woods: Maine Audubon Society (CTSP 1997)


Barbara Charry, GIS Manager, (bcharry@maineaudubon.org)

Conservation Works is a partnership project designed to explore the relationship of rural economic development with conservation planning. In Maine, economic development and natural resource conservation have traditionally pursued separate agendas and at times this has created controversy. Because so much of Maine’s economy is dependent on our natural resources, Maine Audubon feels that this lack of coordination between economic goals and planning and the conservation of our natural word has been a barrier to both economic potential as well as conservation.

This CTSP grant has enabled our organization to enrich many projects with GIS capabilities and to take on and develop new projects that make substantial use of GIS. During this past year, the plotter has been extremely valuable for our advocacy program and salt marsh work. I produced a map depicting boat access for use at public hearings about the future of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (see visual examples). I have produced maps used for coastal wetland conservation workshops and in the field by volunteers who are identifying restoration opportunities (see visual examples).

Northern Forest Waterways – Access, Ownership, Management,

This map was used for advocacy work in the state legislature. The Allagash Wilderness Waterway was threatened with increased access, which would compromise its wilderness character.

We used our GIS maps of ecological and recreational resources in the northern forest to effectively lobby the governor and state government for the conservation of specific areas in the north woods that have come up for sale as several forest companies are liquidating millions of acres of land. This would not have been possible without our CTSP plotter. In addition, without the GIS maps and our prior research we would not be in such a strong and credible position to influence the process. As these negotiations are currently ongoing, the final outcome still remains to be seen, but we have high hopes that some of the best areas in the north woods will be conserved.

We have run into the following problems:

We have had difficulties securing updated data on rare plants, rare and exemplary plant communities, and rare and significant wildlife habitat. Concerns about sharing the locations of these resources have stalled data providers willingness to let us access the data. We continue to work with providers on our request, but it is a slow and frustrating process. I would like to hear about other people’s experiences in accessing endangered species data.

In summary, I think the CTSP grant program is a great program. Without it, we simply would not have been able to use current software to create our myriad conservation maps, nor would we have been able to readily produce, alter, and improve the GIS maps of various resources as quickly as we needed to during several very time sensitive periods. In addition, we have taken advantage of the technical support CTSP provides, and deeply appreciate the opportunity to participate in training courses on a schedule that works for our employees in addition to CTSP. Many nonprofit organizations like us find it difficult to support expensive GIS capabilities. We are truly indebted to CTSP for its continued support of our conservation work by donating hardware, software, training and technical support. We hope that CTSP will be able to continue to provide ongoing technical support and diverse training opportunities to its grantees even beyond the grant year.



All text © by the respective organizations, November 15, 1999

Compilation & web design: Charles Convis, ESRI Conservation Program, November 15, 1999