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South Florida Composite Topographic Mapping

Big Cypress Npres
Frank Partridge
Finer resolution of a crucial factor....

Florida's famous Everglades ecosystem is a region dominated by the broad movement of surface water across an almost flat surface. In some areas thirty miles wide, the celebrated "River of Grass" flows seaward through grass marshes and cypress forests, but its progress is inhibited by Man's historical alterations to the landscape. For over a hundred years, governments and individuals have built dams, dikes, levees, canals, railways, and roadways that have altered the natural flow directions, volumes, and quality. In these recent years of realization that the natural system was the healthy system, all parties involved are trying to restore the original conditions, which, although literally impossible because of the massive scale of the changes, will be achievable if the functions of the ecosystem can be maintained and improved.

Some believe the greatest information gap is the high-accuracy depiction of the topographic surface. Contours of one-meter are essentially worthless for all but the overview; for project mapping in some areas, LIDAR mapping products have allowed contours of one-tenth of a foot. The mapping products presented here were made from federal, state, and private databases, each of which varied in extent and accuracy. Using both automated and hand-contouring methods, these sets were combined and made to fit together so that a region-wide, composite topology could be used for other analyses.

Beside dozens of other protected areas, there are four National Park System units in the affected region: Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, and Everglades National Park. All of these natural areas are at the downstream, receiving end of this lazy yet tenacious water pipeline, so it is crucial to understand the physical pathways of water from the sources to the sea.
April 08, 2004