• Cultural Resources Geographic Information Systems (CRGIS)

Using GIS to Document Cultural Resources after a Natural Disaster

Following hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Coast suffered devastating loss and damage to important cultural resources. As a Federal agency, FEMA must comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act which requires Federal agencies to identify damaged and lost resources, as well as mitigate the loss of any resources removed with Federal money. FEMA requested that the National Park Service's Cultural Resource GIS Facility (CRGIS) develop a strategy to survey and evaluate cultural resources affected by this disaster in Louisiana, using GPS and GIS to expedite the Section 106 process. Additionally, the GIS is being used as a form of mitigation, with the GPS data serving as a form of documentation, to be integrated with state data. This project is helping to provide a lasting methodology for the documentation of cultural resources for the Section 106 process, and serves as a comprehensive test of the Cultural Resource Spatial Data Standards developed by CRGIS.

Extensive documentation on the methodology is available for download here.

UPDATE: In October, 2015, Deidre McCarthy, chief of CRGIS, presented work done by CRGIS following hurricane Katrina, along with our partners at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, at the "Uniting to Save World Cultures" conference hosted by the Smithsonian Institution. Check out her presentation below:

Federal Geographic Data Committee Cultural Resources Subcommittee

CRGIS works with the Federal Geographic Data Committee as a member and Theme Lead of the Cultural Resources Subcommittee. The subcommittee is charged with the identification, prioritization, implementation, coordination, and oversight of strategies and tasks required to support the national cultural resource geospatial data theme and to coordinate those efforts across Federal geospatial programs. More information is available on their website.