Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Drones are Elwha Dam researchers' eyes in sky
Electronic “Ravens” join hungry raptors, their eyes fixed on the flowing water below, as they swoop over the Elwha River this week. The 4½-foot-wide aircraft, resembling radio-controlled airplanes, are steered by researchers on the ground. They took flight Monday, continued Tuesday and will be in the air today. The hands behind the controls and the eyes watching the video streaming from cameras on the craft to a laptop computer will belong to researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey, the federal Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. It's the second series of flights over the Elwha for the Ravens, as their California manufacturer has christened them. The first flights were in June, when the small aircraft glided almost silently about 500 feet above the river, just south of what was at one point Lake Aldwell. The researchers' mission: to determine how best these coffee-table-sized aircraft can be used to study not just the $315 million Elwha River project but also other such projects. Biologists and other researchers watching the dam-removal process are using this information, roughly 15 hours' worth, to help estimate how much sediment has spilled into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and how much is yet to come. In addition, researchers are using the video to watch the recovery of riverside habitat and the creation of sandbars and other geographic features, Hutt said. The flights over the Elwha are the latest example of the myriad research-minded uses that have emerged for technology originally designed for wartime operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. With biologists leading the way, other agencies have sent these unmanned craft skyward to scope out wildfires, detect underground coal seam fires and hunt down invasive boa constrictors and pythons in the Florida Everglades. “A new [use] comes out about every day,” Hutt said...more
Today it's boa constrictors, tomorrow they will be counting cows, measuring forage, etc.