Documenting habitat

Beginning in 2005, Bob Christensen and I developed a protocol for rapid field assessment—new-age ground-truthing—that builds on timeless naturalists’ skills and adds cutting edge technologies as these emerge.

Our CBJ wetlands survey team bushwacking east of Héen Latinee in July, 2014.

Office tent at Emerald Bay, June, 2005. Distant generator on long extension cord is powering 2 laptops and recharging batteries from cameras, GPS units and radios. Kenyon Fields photo.

Field device technology evolves rapidly. Every few years I create an update of my methods and workflow: prefield prep, fieldwork, and postfield processing and journaling. Usually these updates happen during or after a chance to hang out with Bob, who’s always several leaps ahead of me at the intersection technology with boots-on-the-ground. A vignette of that hybrid between oldschool & hightech methodology is in Doug Chadwick’s 2007 article for National Geographic.

A more recent update was in 2022, during the Landforms class with Cathy Connor. Here’s a field-&-office methods summary from the  course manual for that class.l

The methods paper discusses:

● cameras

● gps

● field notes (including audio)

● navigation apps

● drones

● and processing programs including: ● ACDSee ● Robogeo ● ArcMap

● journaling

● online slideshows and video editing

PS 2022

Wow, a lot can happen in the tech world in 5 years! Bob Christensen, who first set me up with Robogeo and ACDSee, has long since moved on from these programs. As Cathy Connor and I introduce students to ground-truthing and mapping technologies, seems high time i update the 2017 appendix excerpt. . . .  That said, its impressive how well certain technologies have held up. Bad Elf is still my favorite GPS. And Avenza has widespread adoption by field people in many disciplines.

In this section

Bushwacker’s difficulty rating

The d-scale Many readers react initially with amusement to this ranking, but it’s one of the more useful measures of…

2023 | Richard Carstensen | 2 pages

Evening class-3: S’awdáan debrief: Jilḵáat intro

Prep for the big one: Below is what I wrote before the tour . . .won’t bother to change future…

2022 | Richard Carstensen | Landforms class archives

Getting started: orientation on campus

Custom geopdfs for Áak’w On our first class, we loaded the navigational app Avenza to our phones, and tested out…

2022 | Richard Carstensen | pair of geopdfs

Roads of ‘Northeast Chich’

Slideshows: Xunaa Káawu Each summer, I try to get over to Hoonah to help my wife Cathy with her research…

2021: 2019 | Richard Carstensen | Slideshows, 8- & 4 minutes

Cemetery mapping, 1990-2017

College-level field mapping in elementary school Probably the most ambitious project undertaken in my pilot Nature Studies program at Harborview,…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 46 pages

Nature near schools: 1990-93

Overview & supplementary materials In addition to school site descriptions for Juneau School District and others throughout northern Lingít Aaní,…

1990-91 | Carstensen, Streveler & Pohl | 20 pages

Fish Creek studies

Discovery-SAWC collaboration Beginning in early 2020, Discovery Southeast is assisting the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition with investigations at Fish Creek…

2020 | Richard Carstensen |

American road trips

An appreciation of 7 good books My father Edwin died in June, 2016 at age 96, in Rochester, New York.…

2016: Update, July, 2020 | Richard Carstensen | 13 pages

Staney Creek

Stream work documentation on Tàan, sea lion (Prince of Wales Island) The Nature Conservancy, US Forest Service, and dozens of…

2020 | Richard Carstensen | 19 minute slideshow

False Island journal 20080806

Four years into the Ground-truthing Project, Bob Christensen and I helped explore northern Shee Ká, above Shee (Peril Strait). This…

2008 | Richard Carstensen | 70 pages

Tree hunting manual

The Tongass needs 50 athletes with ground-truthing skills, to range the timberlands each summer by bike, skiff, 4-wheeler and kayak,…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 14 pages

Hammered gems & unproductive leftovers.

In 2008, Bob Christensen and I were 3 years into the Ground-truthing Project. During those 3 years, the Forest Service…

2008 | Carstensen & Christensen | 30 pages

Ground-truthing Project final report, 2005

The Ground-truthing Project, sponsored by Sitka Conservation Society, ran from 2005 to 2010. Kenyon Fields at SCS administered the program,…

2005 | Carstensen & Christensen | 63 pages

Supplement to the CBJ wetlands surveys, 2016

In summer 2014, Koren Bosworth, Cathy Pohl, Andrew Allison and I surveyed wetlands throughout the CBJ. Although we were not…

2016 | Richard Carstensen | 31 page excerpt (of 512p)

Area descriptions for CBJ wetlands surveys, 2014

Supplement to the 2016 Juneau Wetlands Management Plan In summer 2014, Koren Bosworth, Cathy Pohl, Andrew Allison and I surveyed…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 8 separate pdfs, 2 to 5 MB

Suitability for logging

In 2009, after several years of cruising the Tongass timberlands under the auspices of Sitka Conservation Society, I wrote them…

2009 | Richard Carstensen | 19 pages

A week at Soule River

In July, 2009, I assisted with field surveys for a proposed hydro project near Hyder, on the Canadian border. My…

2009 | Richard Carstensen | 85 pages

Mud Bay survey for SEAL Trust

In June, 2013, Diane Mayer of Southeast Alaska Land Trust asked Koren Bosworth and me to survey and describe wetlands…

2013 | Richard Carstensen & Koren Bosworth | 64 pages, 12MB

Ground-truthing methods & workflow: field to office to posting

Place-based technologies Update, 2023: Every 5 years or so I create an updated description of my methods and workflow: prefield…

2023 | Richard Carstensen | 4 pages

New tools for old naturalists

The 21st-century cartographer New tools for old naturalists In March, 2015, I gave a fireside presentation at the Mendenhall Visitor…

2015 | Richard Carstensen | 31 minutes