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Tag: ArcGIS API for JavaScript

Tracking Grassland Loss in the Great Plains: WWF and Blue Raster Release Plowprint Web Application

Temperate grassland ecosystems, like the Great Plains of North America, are home to a wide variety of plants and animals and provide key ecosystem services, such as soil stabilization, carbon sequestration and water filtration. These lands are under increasing threat of loss due to the expansion of agriculture for food and fuel production and urban development. In the Great Plains, only half of all intact grassland remains, much of it on poor and marginal quality soils. Conversion of grassland to crops in areas of marginal soil is particularly hazardous to ecosystems due to the greater use of fertilizers required to make these lands productive and a higher risk of erosion.

To understand and address these issues faced in the Great Plains, Blue Raster is working with the World Wildlife Fund to bring the annual Plowprint Report online. Since 2016, the Plowprint Report analyzes grassland loss across the Great Plains. Published annually, the report provides a broad overview of trends within large study regions of particular conservation interest, such as the Missouri River Basin (MORB).

plowprint images
Since 2016, the Plowprint Report has published annual findings on grassland loss across the U.S. Great Plains.

“Being able to share the Plowprint Report as an interactive web map is an exciting opportunity to increase awareness about grassland loss across the Great Plains. The Great Plains covers such a large area that it is easy to become disconnected from the landscape beyond where one regularly interacts, and having maps like this with great visual displays at your finger tips allows us to easily see what is happening not just in your community, but across the county, state, region, and beyond.” – Patrick Lendrum, Science Lead at World Wildlife Fund

Plowprint Report Details

The report leverages the USDA’s Cropland Data Layer (CDL), the Canadian Annual Crop Inventory (ACI), the National Land Cover Database (NLCD), US Census TIGER 2019, and Canada Road Network 2018 data to identify areas of “Intact” (grassland) and “Plowprint” (grassland converted to cropland) land by composition and ownership.

These areas are visualized in the new interactive Plowprint web map application. To quantify grassland loss, users can select state or county boundaries, draw, or upload their own areas-of-interest (AOI) for on-the-fly analysis. The tool generates a report with a collection of charts that help the user understand their AOI’s grassland characteristics and trends.

Plowprint image
By leveraging the ArcGIS Image Server, the Plowprint app allows the user to run an on-the-fly analysis of grassland loss for their chosen area of interest (AOI). Outputs can be downloaded as a PDF or CSV. Above, the PDF document provides compelling visuals for understanding trends in the data.

The tool leverages ArcGIS Image Server to quickly analyze the user’s AOI to deliver a report of trends in land use conversion and composition. Users can select data going back to 2009, providing a detailed view of historical patterns. Once the analysis is run for the selected area, users have the option to download the results as a PDF document and CSV file.

With its ability to quantify grassland loss on-the-fly and generate powerful visuals along the way, this application will provide policy makers, companies, and landowners valuable decision making information about habitat conversion within areas under their control. With Great Plains comes great responsibility to monitor these vital ecosystems – Plowprint enables this action.

Using GIS to Inform Workforce Development


We recently worked with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to produce a national-level work-based learning map. Built using ArcGIS Online and the Esri JavaScript API, the map can be custom-tailored to specific state or local agency leadership teams. Using these customized maps, teams can better contextualize their workforce development initiatives and refine their understanding of resources and socioeconomic distribution across their region.

Workforce Development with GIS

Nearly five decades of research has demonstrated that the places where individuals live and learn have a dramatic impact on their opportunities and life outcomes. These place effects—the advantages and disadvantages that one inherits by simply living in a particular location—have a particularly strong impact on one’s access to high-quality education, workforce training, and employment, which are the key ingredients to upward economic mobility. It is vital that leaders in state and local education agencies are mindful of place effects as they help districts and schools to develop work-based learning (WBL) systems across diverse contexts.

Through this application, AIR can more easily identify areas of improved workplace development and analyze the factors that lead to this outcome. This could include factors such as education opportunities, health benefits, or a variety of social factors.

How do I use it?

Users are able to activate different layers that fall under categories such as Education, Health, and Social Factors. By looking across states and the country as a whole, we are able to understand which communities are at a disadvantage when it comes to these factors. As we explained earlier, these factors are vital to spark upward economic mobility. When viewing these different layers, we can have a higher understanding of where these lacking communities are located, and where resources need to be more readily available.

Here is a demo of the application in action.

You can view and use the application here.


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