Towards Developing Kentucky's Landscape Change Maps

Article excerpt

The Kentucky Landscape Snapshot Project

Kentucky's landscapes are rapidly changing from agrarian, silvicultural, and coal-extractive dominance to more urbanized forms. Farmland is under increased development pressure; new homes, businesses, and shopping areas are being constructed on land that once produced crops and grazed cattle and horses. To be able to make good land-management and planning decisions for the future one needs good information on trends in landscape-use changes. The Kentucky Governor's Office for Technology (GOT) was recently awarded a $1.3 million grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to improve the understanding of the Commonwealth's forest and urban and rural landscapes. This grant money funds the Kentucky Landscape Snapshot Project, which will provide an updated, statewide land-cover map, a forest-cover map, and a high-resolution land-use map for many urban areas. The maps will reflect changes in Kentucky's landscapes and will be useful to decision makers and land planners. Following in the steps of the National Land Cover Data Set (NLCD) program, the Kentucky Landscape Snapshot Project ( focuses on a renewed effort to map land cover and land use in the State of Kentucky. High-resolution imagery from the multi-resolution NLCD 2002 mapping effort will be utilized to quantify canopy closure and imperviousness in urban areas of Kentucky. The overall objective of the Kentucky Landscape Snapshot Project is to provide a baseline map for change detection.


The project is expected to develop a digital snapshot of the Commonwealth's current natural and manmade landscape and compare the data with data from future or previous time periods, which will enable forward and backward change detection. Better datasets and software will be developed as part of the project to assist local, state, and federal decision makers in making future land-use decisions.


The active participants in the Kentucky Landscape Snapshot Project are:

* The Kentucky Governor's Office for Technology;

* The Kentucky Department for Natural Resources--Division of Forestry, Division of Conservation, and Nature Preserves Commission;

* U.S. Forest Service--Daniel Boone National Forest;

* U.S. Geological Survey; and

* Space Imaging, Inc.


The Kentucky Landscape Snapshot Project will use 30-m Landsat 7 data collected in the spring, summer, and fall of 2002 and other ancillary data sets (Kauth and Thomas 1976; Fahsi et al. 2000; Moran et al. 1992; Figures 1 and 2). Additional information about the creation of the land cover map is available at


The imagery will be classified using a USGS-modified Anderson Level III schema, which is slightly different from the one utilized in NLCD92 ( An additional level of detail will be added to the USGS schema in the form of vegetation type classes, which follow the GAP classes described by Wethington et al. (2003). High-resolution, multispectral, 1-m IKONOS imagery of urban areas will be utilized in calibrating imperviousness and canopy closure (Figures 3 and 4). …