Mississippi River Main Stem LULC Development

Funding Agency: US Army Corps of Engineers - New Orleans, Vicksburg, Memphis, and St. Louis Districts

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), Lower Mississippi Valley Division (LMVD), has among its responsibilities maintaining navigation of the Mississippi River. Accordingly, the COE must keep the river open to commercial traffic by channeling where necessary. These channeling activities modify the flow and shape of the river as well as altering the vegetation that grows between the levee and the river. This riverine vegetation was the focus of this study.

Studies are routinely conducted by COE to determine the impact of implemented flood control and navigation structures on vegetation. Many of the lands managed by COE along the Mississippi River have been designated as wetlands by various federal legislative actions. Because they are wetlands, they must be monitored and protected. Toward that end, the COE periodically conducts studies to establish trends in land cover changes along the river. One such study is the vegetation mapping along the river from Hannibal, MO to the Head of Passes, south of New Orleans, LA. This corridor is 1,350 miles long and varies in width from 1/4 mile to several miles. The area between the levees on either side of the river, from Missouri to Louisiana encompasses over 3 million acres.

The Spatial Sciences Laboratory (SSL) contracted with the LMVD to map the vegetation along the river using color infrared (CIR) aerial photography. The end result of this mapping effort is a seamless, digital, GIS database for the entire length of the river. This vegetation map was developed from more than 3,000 aerial photographs, covering over 360 individual map sheets.