Our Work

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Northern Great Plains Join Venture

Getting Conservation Efforts On The Map

The Northern Great Plains Joint Venture (NGPJV) aims to support and implement protection, enhancement, and restoration of prairie grassland, shrub-steppe, wetland, and riparian ecosystems. With an emphasis on sustaining and increasing populations of migratory and resident birds, their work spreads across North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.


Ensuring the conservation of lands critical to the native bird populations requires collaboration with ranchers, land owners, local government, and state government. NGPJV had a lot of data, but it was stored in non-spatial directories and documents, making it difficult to get a full view of situations and adequately prioritize efforts that would make the biggest impacts. Local land managers, landowners, and conservation practitioners needed a better way to view the data to agree on paths forward.

Conservation Guidance Web Tool

Blue Raster helped NGPJV “get on the map,” moving existing data into ArcGIS Online that allowed for it to be presented in a more consumable fashion.  Blue Raster built the Conservation Guidance Web Tool to:

      • Identify areas where conservation activity will have most impact
      • Get an understanding of where federal programs are happening
      • Identify gaps where people are not participating in programs
      • Provide an easy view for landowners to see what activities are available to them

One use case is looking at Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federal program incentivizing conservation efforts on private land, expiration data. The map provides a quick view of where expirations are happening allowing staff to reach out to particular areas to inform and educate communities on the benefits of renewing. Another use is mapping which counties are the most important to protected bird species to gain a better understanding of where they are currently living and where they are under threat.

Conservation Guidance Web Tool

Users can add or remove layers from the map to investigate areas of interest. NGPJV staff use the Web Tool as a resource when talking to people as it is for more interactive and real time than traditional power point presentations. They can answer questions on the fly by selecting new ways to view the data.

This web tool, hosted by Ducks Unlimited, is designed to help managers better understand various conservation considerations where they work. Understanding why a given tract of land is important makes for more informed decisions when it comes to conservation design and implementation.