Mississippi Water Resources – NASA DEVELOP Spring 2015 @ Mobile County Health Department


Amber: Breaking news from the NASA Develop
team here at the Mobile County Health Department! Ten small watersheds in coastal Mississippi
need help! Invasive species, urbanization, and harmful anthropogenic factors are creating
concern amongst the community. Juan: The invasive species, cogongrass and
Chinese tallow, have decreased biodiversity, threatened endangered species, and altered
the local ecosystem. They infest 62 counties and 49 million acres throughout Mississippi.
Our team collaborated with The Nature Conservancy and the Pascagoula River Audubon Center to
address these issues. Now let’s hear from our partner, Lee Trebotich, about the effects
these invasive species. Lee: Invasives can come into an area and wipe
it out whether it’s eradicate other native plants which in turn switches out habitat
‘cause a lot of our native birds around here rely on certain plants whether to nest,
or roost or even to hunt for certain insects and if you have an invasive species come in
and eradicate a native plant that these birds and insects are used to being interconnected
with and it’s just a chain reaction of events. Lee: My big goal is to come in here and try
to be a prime factor in eradicating these invasives and introducing native plants back
to their habitat. Juan: Thank you Lee! It seems like these plant
species are literally taking over the watersheds! Amber: Moreover, impervious surfaces are causing
increased storm water runoff to drain into these small streams. These small stream channels
are also being reconstructed to increase discharge flow and flood control. Now let’s speak
with our partners Mike and Lee on the human impacts on the Turkey Creek watershed. Lee: There’s also with all these watersheds
there’s also a big interaction directly and indirectly with surrounding populations,
people and uh…course all these streams being labelled urban streams they flow in and out
of urbanized areas, whether it be abandoned or civilized and… Mike: It has some pollution issues. It has…
there are some bacteria issues in it. It primarily comes from some old septic systems up high
in the watershed that flow down in here Juan: Thank you partners! Now let’s hear
from our analysts down at the office, Jennifer and Georgina? Jennifer(voice-over): Thanks Juan! Our team
developed a Land Use/Land Cover map using Landsat 8 imagery from November 2014. This
shows 8 land cover types within our study area, including open land, forested swamp,
and developed. These categories aided our partners by providing a map of the land cover
within the watersheds.*LULC Image with legend Jennifer(voice-over): Habitat suitability
for the invasive plants used species presence points, ASTER digital elevation, climate data,
and environmental indices derived from Landsat 8 imagery in the Maximum Entropy model. This
provided our partners with vulnerability maps of potential cogongrass and Chinese tallow
expansion. Cogongrass was especially prevalent in cleared areas, such as roads and agricultural
fields, but was absent in heavily flooded regions. Chinese tallow was mostly present
in disturbed, wet regions with low elevation, especially on floodplains. However, it was
absent in standing water and heavily forested areas. Georgina(voice-over): The InVEST Habitat Risk
Assessment model was used to map the anthropogenic influences within the Turkey Creek watershed.
Human land use layers from the Mississippi Automated Resource Information System, such
as roads and buildings, were overlaid with habitat layers, including wetlands and forests.
These results can be used to inform natural resource management decisions. Back to you,
Juan! Juan: Thank you ladies. By using NASA Earth
observations, this project will provide The Nature Conservancy and The Pascagoula River
Audubon Center with regions of potential invasive species expansion to aid in the management
of these watersheds. Amber: This project will also provide maps
of urban usage and influences within the watersheds to inform restoration efforts. These streams
play a vital role in the local communities, as our partner notes in the following. Mike: But you know one of the reasons we chose
Turkey Creek is because there was already a very strong neighborhood attachment to the
creek. Whenever you have a meeting about Turkey Creek, dozens of people show up. You know,
everybody here cares about it so the people who live here, been fishing and hunting in
this creek for a hundred and fifty years and they want to keep it the way it is.

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