Lake County Forest Preserves Controlled Burn Aerial Images

Environmental Preservation with Crystal Clear Imagery

Lake County Forest Preserves in Illinois uses Nearmap to protect and maintain its natural resources.

13 March 2020 | Lakewood, IL
Before we started using Nearmap imagery, we were going every two years between aerial captures. But we needed more consistency, more clarity and more currency we could rely on.
Nick Spittlemeister, GIS Analyst, Planning and Land Preservation Department

Being able to view the environment from an aerial perspective has never been something Lake County Forest Preserves lacked. They have aerial imagery dating all the way back to 1939. But they grew tired of not being able to see truth on the ground, or even seeing their natural environment on a regular basis.

The Challenge at a glance

Frequent Captures = More Accurate Planning

Dave Cassin, Superintendent of Natural Resources, and Kevin Kleinjan, Senior Engineer of Ops and Infrastructure, needed a new way of viewing their respective areas to improve care of the forest environment and increase their ability to improve asset management.

“We monitor an area of land that had colonies of phragmites,” explained Cassin. “I needed a way to see what was happening on a more regular basis.” Cassin used Nearmap’s frequent captures to investigate, identify, and monitor invasive species management.

Kleinjan shared, “I was able to improve my pre-projects planning for pavement patching and seal cracking of parking lots and such. I needed eyes on the ground without having to be on the ground.”

Aerial Image of Fourth Lake Preserve phragmite area Fourth Lake Preserve Phragmites
Frequent Capture of Lakewood controlled burn, Illinois Lakewood Controlled Burn, Illinois
The Solution at a glance

Monitoring the Landscape from Anywhere

Nearmap’s capture frequency and high resolution gave both Cassin and Kleinjan the ability to view and monitor assets or track invasive species—all from the comfort of their office.

“Using Nearmap for comparison between captures, I could see quite easily the flower heads on a plant. Nearmap’s imagery easily showed us the difference between burned and unburned phragmites,” shared Cassin.

Kleinjan commented, “Instead of wheeling off every crack and every pothole, I can use Nearmap imagery back in my office. The high-resolution imagery lets me do takeoffs on screen because I can clearly see what needs to be fixed and addressed.”

Planning in the Time of COVID-19
Like many other public serving entities, Lake County Forest Preserves was faced with countless challenges in stepping up to address the COVID-19 pandemic. One challenge involved identifying and removing picnic tables and benches from public parks. “I used our latest capture from Nearmap, which was in March, around the time we shut everything down. Using Collector for ArcGIS, I could easily map out each and every table, know exactly where they were, and send my crews out safely and efficiently to help the community stay compliant with social distancing.”

Business Impact

Improved Asset Management
By using Nearmap’s crystal clear Vertical imagery, Lake County Forest Preserves could more easily manage the vast environmental landscape. With online access 24/7 to imagery, they could more readily monitor and track changes, whether natural or man made.

Robust Pre-project Planning
With over six years of aerial imagery in the database, at a capture rate of at least three times per year, Lake County Forest Preserves trusted the validity of what they were seeing to help in their project planning. Nick Spittlemeister, GIS Analyst in the Planning and Land Preservation Department shared, “Getting imagery across seasons is a huge benefit for us. We use that so much across many of our projects, whether they are developmental or restoration. Before Nearmap, we’d have to wait 9 to 12 months for access to imagery from other resources.”

Confident Decision-making
“Nearmap is just so unique in the fact that you’re able to get aerial photography—get that clear imagery—within a week or two after the capture,” reflects Spittlemeister. “In my opinion, that completely sells the reason why anyone would want to use Nearmap imagery. It boosts our confidence in all of our decision-making.”

High Resolution Aerial Image of Fourth Lake Preserve phragmite area Fourth Lake Preserve Phragmites Close-up
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