Our Team had a productive week where we met with our community partner Dave in San Pedro Valley Park and also met separately as a team to debrief and analyze our existing datasets. On Tuesday February 14th, our team gathered on campus and drove to San Pedro Valley park and met Dave Jaeckel, Ramona Arechiga (San Mateo County Natural Resource Manager) and Courtney Coon (with the Bay Area Puma Project and Felidae Fund). Once there we walked to scope out new locations for the cameras that would be added for San Mateo County’s Wildlife Index Project. We spoke and discussed the techniques for finding an ideal place for the cameras and worked together to install them in several locations. We had hours of conversation with Ramona, Courtney and Dave and debriefed on our conversation on the hour-long car ride way back.
Additionally we met on Thursday to further debrief and discuss our field day and find the best way to organize our data for our final deliverable. Our main objective is to format and consolidate the existing data points so that we can best use ArcGIS to represent the information to our client.
What We Observed and Learned
During our trip to San Pedro Valley Park, we had the opportunity to ask Ramona (the Natural Resource Manager), Courtney and Dave many of our previously unanswered questions. Our notes are detailed below:
Pumas (a large focus for local wildlife conservation groups) largely spend their time sleeping during day and hunt for deer and other large mammals at night. Their diets consist 50-80% of deer. Males will separate at 1-2 years old to find their own territory. Males cannot be within 100 square miles of another male or they will kill each other.
Land management is tricky, habitat fragmentation is critical because this means wildlife have less dense habitat.
Courtney Coon made the comment, "We don't know what our children in 100 years will want" and commented on the inherent need to make assumptions for future generations in land management decisions.
Ramona emphasized finding the highest quality habitat and insulating it, and ultimately recreate it through restoration.
Emphasis on eliminating invasive wildlife and plant species.
Parks is for greater good, these were formed and protected specifically for human recreation. SM park department is primarily recreation, now trying to improve resource management. Don't have a specific fund for San Mateo Parks. Rather they are funded out of county general fund. Because of this the Parks funding are the first to get cut because parks are not providing essential services (as opposed to health care, food markets, etc.). Operate off of open spaces, survive off of property tax.
We figured out that much of our collected data is repetitive. We started off with 63000 images and when we filtered out repeat images of the same animal standing in front of the camera (the time stamps are less than ~9 minutes apart). By filtered by the time stamps and through this process we limited our dataset down to 20,000 images. Following this we filtered out images of humans, domestic cats and dogs, and unknown images which eliminated another ⅔ of the photos leaving us with 7200 unique data points for our final deliverable.
National Parks vs National Forests
Similar to how each park has two different aspects (recreation vs resource management), there are two different federal bodies that govern federally owned lands differently as well. National Parks’ funding and focus is on recreation, but the National Forests’ interests lie in conservation and natural resources. This does not mean it is devoid of human use; timber and mining industries are also affected by National Forests deciding how the land is to be used.
San Bruno Mountain
San Bruno Mountain was protected from demolition precisely because an engaged community got involved and petition for its protection. However, the butterfly species that used San Bruno Mountain as a habitat provided the political ammunition needed to ensure the lasting preservation of the area and the declaration of the region as a government sanctioned park.
According to the data already found by the Puma Project, there are discrepancies between the data in the Critical Linkages Paper and what we are currently observing in the data. This means that in the years that have passed since the data was first collected, the distribution of species may already have changed. It is yet to be determined whether this is positive or negative.
Despite the parks not officially being used for human necessities such as housing, the parks actually provide a quiet place for a number of homeless people to sleep. This is hardly a direct reason to keep the parks, but is an interesting service that the parks provide in lieu of what the county fails to offer.
The park managers are aware of the housing issues in the Bay Area, and are also aware that the recreational services provided by the parks are traditionally services used only by the wealthy. This is frustrating as the parks are free and are a wonderful resource in terms of education and health, but are nonetheless underutilized. It is a goal for the parks to reach more people in the Bay Area, but how this is to be accomplished is yet to be understood.
Endangered Species Act
The ESA provides a critical legal loophole that is one of the only ways to veto a demolition project. Should an area be proven to sustain a species in danger of extinction, then the area can be preserved in perpetuity so long as the service to the endangered species is maintained
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
In terms of mapping the data, the first step ahead involves talking to David, the GIS guru in the Earth Systems library, to figure out the best/easiest GIS software to display the data points we have given it comes from an excel spreadsheet. After choosing a software we will need to choose a base map and the layers to go over it such as park lines and potentially including ecosystem boundaries. Each layer adds another potential facet to our analysis. The next step will involve transferring the data onto the map. The length and ease of this task are highly dependent on the software and our understanding of the software. The software can also either limit or inspire our potential visualizations.
Another tool that Dave (our partner) has mentioned utilizing is Tableau, software that allows for the easy graphing and layout of excel data. It doesn’t do GIS mapping, but can create a variety of graphs that compare and contrast different aspects of the data. Dave has yet to fully detail his plans for using Tableau, but one of our team members has some experience with it. When we discuss and define what we want to use Tableau for, we will be able to produce the desired outputs in a fairly short time.
Finally we will use the analysis functions provided in the software to reach conclusions about the data we currently have. We still want to continue reaching out to the few contacts who have yet to respond to our data requests, along with touching base with a contact that didn’t think they had data for the regions we’re focusing on. Though they insist on this, we feel that (politely) asking them to provide what camera trap data they do have couldn’t hurt. Since the camera trapping program is intended to result in a much larger-scale Wildlife Picture Index, having data a little outside our current parameters could still be useful. We may end up discovering important insights from the data anyway.