technology to better understand our campus ecology
John Woolman School is a Quaker boarding
school located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, about 8 miles north
of Nevada City. The school owns 230 acres in the rural countryside. It
has a staff of 18 and a student body of about 50.
About 2 years ago the Environmental
Science class began a project to map the campus and to develop a comprehensive
environmental history of the school property. The first stage of this multi-year
project involved mapping the various ecosystems located on the campus.
These ecosystems are highly diverse for such a small area - including the
following types of vegetation - Riparian, Blue Oak & Foothill Pine,
Ponderosa Pine, Mixed Chaparral, Montane Chaparral, Meadow, Pasture, and
Orchard. Currently, we are in the process of beginning to map other aspects
of the campus.
Here is an aerial photograph
of what the campus looks like. The meadow and buildings are part of the
Up until this year, all mapping has taken
place on paper and has not been digitalized. My intention in the 1999-2000
academic year is to begin utilizing ArcView GIS software, in combination
with ortho-photographs, to create an accurate digitized base map for the
entire campus. This base map will then be used to have various themes (layers)
applied on top. These themes can then be queried and cross-referenced to
help us better understand complex relationships in the natural world. The
following is a partial list of some of the various projects we could then
develop with this base map.
of the first projects we might do is to digitalize our habitate data. This
data will look something like this:
This map of the campus habitates will lay the ground work
for doing more detailed study of the specific ecosystems. In particular,
. since there is a serious concern about fire potential, we will most likely
focus our immediate attention on the stands of Ponderosa pine and Montane
chaparal. The use of GIS software will help us to map out such factors
as tree size, forest density, and fuel laddering. Overlaying these themes
should help us determine the most susceptible areas. It will also help
us to assess the best method for removing any harvested material in the
most ecological manner.
Here is a graphical representation of the central campus
Five years ago, a biology teacher at John Woolman built 15
bird houses and placed them in appropiate places to encourage the nesting
of Western Bluebirds. We currently have 21 nesting boxes that we monitor
weekly. As such, we coorrdinate our efforts with the National Audoban Society
to increase the number of bluebirds in the Sierra Nevada.
We have been recording weekly data for each box over this 5 year period.
This data is in a data base and could thereby be easily imported as a theme
on top of our GIS base map. Below is a map showing the locations of the
21 boxes. The map also shows where we have located a nest box for wood
One of the projects that gets coordinated
through both the life sciences and the physical sciences is analysis of
water quality on the JWS campus. We have an increadible variety of aquatic
habitates to study. In addition to the Woolman Creek, we also study the
water at Mel,s Pond (which is very eutrophic), the water at the NID Pond
(which supports lots of native flora and fauna), the water which comes
out of our two wells (which gives us a glimse of our ground water), and
the water at the evaporation ponds (which is filled with all kinds of interesting
creatures). Each of these water sources are quite unique - providing us
with an excellent opportunity to explore various aspects of water in the
In addition to studying the water on the campus, the students
at John Woolman also study the larger aspects of the Yuba watershed. For
instance, we take macro-invertebrate counts at Deer Creek. Additionally,
a number of students are also actively involved
with work to save the Yuba River. Our student activist group is dedicated
towards the decommisioning of Englebright Dam. We are also registered with
the River Keepers (of the South Yuba River) to begin regular monitoring
of a site near the campus.
Here is a map showing the relationship of the JWS campus (shown in yellow)
to both Deer Creek and the South Yuba River.
To find out more about the John Woolman School
To find out more about protection of the
Yuba watershed http://www.syrcl.org/
All maps were created by Scott
Johnson using ArcView GIS software.
Thank you to all the participants,
instructors, and sponsors of the TORCH: GIS & Environmental Science