Todd Thomas, BMP
Forester, Texas A&M Forest Service
Q: A buddy of mine attended one of the recent logger
training courses and was telling me about this fancy new computer mapping tool
that the TFS has produced. Where can we
find this tool and what are the details?
A: The tool your
buddy was referring to is called “Plan My Land Operation.” Plan my land operation is an application that
can be found at www.texasforestinfo.com. At this website, there are several useful
tools that I encourage you to try out. Other
applications that can be found there include an interactive forest products
directory, to a timber decision simulator, as well as several other interactive
web based applications.
Plan My Land Operation was designed to help loggers,
foresters, and landowners to gather information to plan out their forest
operations more efficiently. The first
step in conducting your operations in a BMP savvy manner is to plan. On this application, the user can view aerial
imagery that is linked to bing maps, historical aerial imagery dating back the
last 10 years or so, USGS topographic maps, and maps that display only the
hydrology of the area.
The first step is to find the location of the
property. This can be done by zooming in
with your mouse, or by entering the latitude/longitude of the site. Once this is done, you may use your mouse to
draw out the boundaries of the property.
If you have the boundaries saved you may load them to save you time if
they are of the following file types: mmp, shp, kml, or gpx. Once you have your boundaries drawn, you may
save them and load them later if you need to revisit the application. Acreage is automatically calculated once you
get the boundaries drawn out.
The next tool listed on this application is the
“Sensitive Areas” tool. This tool
automatically draws out any streams on the site, applies an SMZ to these
streams (defaults to 50 feet, but you can tailor it to your needs), shows any
steep slopes (slopes greater than 8%, but can be changed to your liking), and
any wet areas where rutting may be a concern.
The application will even produce a written report on these sensitive
areas for your reference. After this
comes the “Soils” tool. This overlays
NRCS soil maps onto the landscape allowing you to view not only soil type, but
erodibility, site index, etc. If this
wasn’t enough, the tool below soils is called “Operational
Considerations.” This contains layers
that show suitability for roads and landings, harvest equipment operability,
soil rutting hazard, and others that give the user a view of landscape
conditions that could hinder operations.
Possibly my favorite two tools are next on the menu. These are the “Culvert Size” and “Elevation
Profile” tools. The culvert size tool
allows the user to select a location on a stream and the area that drains down
to that point on the stream is automatically drawn out on the map. Next a report is produced that gives the user
recommendations on what size culvert would be appropriate for the location
selected. The “Elevation Profile” tool
gives the user the ability to draw out a potential road or trail on the map,
and a graph charting the elevation of that path as it snakes along is
produced. This gives you the ability to
choose a location for a road or trail with the least amount of slope. This tool is also handy for any of you hikers
out there. The last four tools on the
application allow the user to measure area and distance, add labels, add linear
features, and add points of interest.
Once you are satisfied with the map you have produced, the last button
on the menu gives you the option to save the map in pdf form for future
reference or print it out.
That, in a nutshell, are just some of the options brought
to the table by the “Plan My Land Operation” tool. I encourage you to visit the website and play
with this particular application and the many others provided on the
website. Don’t worry, this web tool is
way more user friendly than I have made it sound. It was designed to be as user friendly as
possible and is constantly being improved and added on to. If you have any questions about this or any
BMP issues call my office in Lufkin, the number is (936)639-8180. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.