Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lab #6- February 23, 2011

To create this map of the Station Fires in Los Angeles County, I downloaded a DEM from the USGS website and got the landcover/vegetation data and the perimeter data from The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP) website. I also downloaded the LA county polygon from the UCLA GIS website. It was not difficult to download the correct DEM or the LA county polygon, but I had some difficulty finding the correct vegetation data. The perimeter data was easy enough to find on the FRAP website, as was the fuel data, but I had a friend help me with the vegetation data.

This map was pretty difficult to make, as there were no exact steps in this lab as there have been in others. I had some trouble with the hillshade, and was not able to manipulate it to be the same size as LA county. I merged all of the Station Fires together to create one large perimeter that encompassed all of the perimeters. I then overlaid the slope and hillshade data that I created with the Spatial Analyst tool. I then added the fuel and vegetation data.

There were many difficult parts to this lab, and I feel that we have not had enough practice to be able to create a very good map with minimal instruction. Spatial Analysis is very challenging, and I feel that I was not able to do as much with this lab as I have with others. However, I did feel that this was a very good learning experience, and taught me a lot about ArcGIS and my own GIS skills.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lab #5- February 16, 2011

This Suitability Analysis exercise showed me the many different factors one must take into account when planning to put a landfill, dump, or other controversial type of property in a county. To find suitable locations in this fictional Montana county, elevation, soils, streams, landcover type and slope distance all had to be analyzed. All of this separate data then had to be combined to create the ultimate site for the new landfill. Using Spatial Analyst allows one to convert raster layers into grid layers and then input them into an analysis model. You can then compare and contrast each grid layer and determine potential sites.

The site must be chosen based on the water, land, and soils in the surrounding areas. Furthermore, as this LA Times article highlights, the site must be met with approval by the local populace. If a landfill is placed too close to a city or town, it may cause birth defects due to its high level of radiation. Though this has not been proven yet, the California government and the EPA are taking these charges very seriously, with an investigation underway.

These suitability analysis techniques will help this Central Valley city determine how to expand the landfill, if allowed. They will want to move it further away from the local population if possible, expanding it in such a way that would not bring it closer to residences. In order to prove that the site is not causing the harmful radiation and birth defects, the city should use suitability analysis to prove that the current location of the landfill is the best fit for that city.

When I reclassified each data layer on a scale of 1 to 5, it was purely subjective, based entirely on my own criteria. However, in the real world, public input as well as other criteria such as economic implications would also have been taken into account. This means that the California landfill now under investigation most likely had taken public input into account at the time of the landfill being built. However, perhaps the town was much smaller at that time or there were not such stringent laws at the time of its approval.

The landfill debate in the Central Valley shows that sometimes, this suitability analysis is not enough. I did not take the local population into account when creating this data, instead looking only at the environmental aspects of the county. In order to avoid serious health problems as well as costly legal battles, the county should also include local population as a factor. This California landfill is coming under fire due to its proximity to the citizens, which could have possibly been avoided had further analysis taken place.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Quiz #1- February 2, 2011

The recent approval of a medical marijuana ordinance by the LA City Council was the right decision and should be applauded. The City Council voted to adopt an ordinance that requires medical marijuana dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet from places where children congregate, which includes schools and parks. This decision will help reduce the influence of marijuana on school children, and will ensure that there are no dispensaries where children often convene.

This map shows all parks and major institutions in the city of Los Angeles, with the 1,000 foot buffers in place. Los Angeles is a densely populated city, and much of the land is covered by parks, schools, and other institutions. As is shown on the map, there are few areas without markers. I took a small subsect of the medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, marking all dispensaries within walking distance of UCLA in Westwood. Of the four dispensaries in Westwood, three of them are within 1,000 feet of a park or institution. This small sample proves that many dispensaries are within the buffer zone, and will need to be moved to comply with the new ordinance.

This ordinance will bring money to the city of Los Angeles, as medical marijuana dispensaries will be required to pay a fee. The city will not have to move the dispensaries, so this is at no cost to the tax payers. This ordinance is wholly beneficial to the people of Los Angeles. Children will not be exposed to medical marijuana dispensaries and the city will profit from the dispensaries that must pay a fee. The only participants at a disadvantage are the dispensaries themselves, with some dispensaries claiming that this ordinance is unfair. However, there are already far too many dispensaries in Los Angeles, and this ordinance will help relocate those near schools and parks to better areas.