Drone, GPS for mapping tree damage on Lake Zorinskoe
OMAHA, Nebraska (Nebraska). Those on the trail around Lake Zorinsky usually look ahead or around themselves, but Steve Cacioppo spent Tuesday morning looking up.
“400 feet is the maximum altitude we can legally fly,” Cacioppo said.
An analyst with the Douglas County Geographic Information System pilots a drone over a wooded section of a park that has been thinned out by illegal logging.
“We will have an aerial photograph where everything is glued together into one whole photograph,” he said.
City park officials suspect that someone illegally entered the forest mulcher, removing small trees and bushes, without permission late last year. But two dozen larger trees might not survive indiscriminate nibbling on their trunks.
Although the felling was carried out by a timber machine, the city arborist calls the work unprofessional.
“We noticed it yesterday when these trees look like they took an axe,” said walker Mary Caswell.
“Whoever does something like this should be caught,” said walker Joanne Aliano. “I hate to see it destroyed and defiled.”
Led by a Douglas County GPS technologist, Army Corps of Engineers and a City Parks Department tree expert teamed up to determine the outer limits of destruction in the forest.
Drone and GPS mapping will give city park officials and engineering personnel a near-accurate measurement of the area affected by vandalism, which is also important for prosecutions to determine damages and recover damages.
Agencies involved in the investigation will get a 3D view of the path of destruction.
“If they want to look at cost or in terms of numbers, that’s a lot of acres that’s been affected and so many cubic yards of vegetation that’s been removed,” Cacioppo said.
An email from the engineering troops says that what happened on Lake Zorinsky is a violation of the law, and those responsible for the destruction can be prosecuted and brought to administrative responsibility.
When the illegal carvers are identified and brought to justice, the 3D evidence will go to court.
The participants in the investigation have a version about the motives for cutting, but they need more information to prove it. Anyone who might know who drove the mulcher into the woods around Zorin Lake should call the Army Corps or the Omaha Parks Department.
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