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Kansas GAP: Preparing the Stewardship Layer
Department of Geography, Kansas State University, Manhattan

With the objective of identifying gaps in biological diversity, the
National Gap Analysis Program (GAP) maps managed areas, land
cover, and vertebrate species distribution. The development of a
spatial inventory of managed areas, collectively called the steward-
ship layer, is critical to meeting this objective. For the Kansas GAP
project, the stewardship layer was developed using a Geographic
Information System (GIS). This article outlines the process and
some of the challenges in developing such an inventory in Kansas.

The development of the stewardship layer was begun by the Geo-
graphic Information System Spatial Analysis Laboratory (GISSAL)
at Kansas State University in 1995. Creating a stewardship layer is
a conceptually straightforward process consisting of essentially three
basic steps (summarized from Crist 1998):

1) Identification of all managed areas

2) Acquisition and compilation of managed-area boundaries and

3) Collection of attribute data

GISSAL researchers were able to initially identify 258 managed-
area units in Kansas. Of these areas, 210 were both larger than the
40-acre minimum mapping unit (MMU) established by National
GAP and had accessible and usable boundary information.

Identifying Managed Areas in Kansas
Multiple sources were consulted in order to create a comprehen-
sive list of managed areas in Kansas. In addition to contributions
made by Kansas GAP partners, phone books from the local library
and the
Kansas Atlas and Gazetteer were useful sources. An ex-
haustive Internet search completed our initial investigation.

Other sources of potential data include Digital Line Graphs (DLG)
produced by the USGS at 1:100,000 scale and protected-area bound-
aries developed by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre
(WCMC) in Cambridge, U.K. (Beardsley and Stoms 1993). The
DLGs include administrative boundaries of national parks, forests,
wilderness areas, and Native American reservations. The WCMC
boundaries are being digitized into ARC/INFO and include world-
wide protected areas at a MMU of 5,000 ha and at a scale of
1:1,000,000. These last two sources were not used in the Kansas
GAP stewardship layer because of the availability of the Kansas
National Heritage Inventory Program maps.

Acquisition and Compilation of Managed-Area Boundaries
One of the most comprehensive sources of managed-area data in
Kansas was the Natural Heritage Inventory Program (NHIP) ad-
ministered through the Kansas Biological Survey (KBS). This in-
ventory became the core set of data from which much of the Kan-
sas GAP stewardship layer was derived. The inventory contained
owner and manager data, protection status designation, and 1:24,000
base maps of the managed areas.

The maps provided by NHIP were largely hand-drawn boundaries
placed onto USGS 1:24,000 topographic maps and based on bound-
aries described either in map form or by legal description. The
boundary maps were transferred to Mylar and scanned. The raster
images were converted to vector form using Scorpion SRV-386 and
AutoCAD software. After adding neatline and tic locations in
AutoCAD, the files were converted into ARC/INFO coverages and
mapjoined. Each coverage was then transformed and projected to
a Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) projection. This transfor-
mation allowed for the creation of the base set of managed-area
boundaries for Kansas.

Once the initial coverage was created, the boundary areas were
modified to reflect real-world boundaries. This was accomplished
using 1:24,000 Digital Orthophoto Quarter Quads (DOQQs).
DOQQs have a one-meter ground resolution and are useful for re-
vising coverages generated from both Digital Line Graphs and to-
pographic maps (DASC 1991). Used as a backcoverage, the
orthophotos allowed the originally hand-copied boundaries to be
adjusted to match the real-world roadways, fence lines, and water
bodies that they were representing. The DOQQs greatly enhance
the accuracy of the boundary information. Other researchers have
used orthophotos for delimiting natural-area boundaries (Welch et
al. 1995). Additional checks and improvements to boundary infor-
mation are incorporated as more accurate information becomes

Collecting Attribute Data
The attribute data required by GAP include owner, manager, and
protection status information. GISSAL has expanded these attributes
to include a second owner category, county of location, and acre-
age per management status. The second owner category allows us
to acknowledge areas that are co-owned such as the Konza Prairie
Research Natural Area of which 89% is owned by The Nature Con-
servancy and 11% by Kansas State University (TNC 1998). The

county of location and acreage per management status variables
allow us to categorize the managed areas by county or other man-
agement regions.

Collecting the attribute data is an ongoing challenge. The NHIP
data set includes a protection status ranking and owner and man-
ager information for most areas. For other areas, the information is
often kept by individual managers and is not available from a cen-
tralized source. Collecting information entails contacting individual
managers and translating management status categories used by the
different agencies into the four GAP management categories. Co-
ordination and communication are key aspects of accomplishing
this task.

Finally, changes to management and protection status are often
dynamic, and keeping tabs on changes is important. All changes
affect the stewardship layer, and developing a procedure for main-
taining the integrity of the database over time is a key element in
establishing the GAP stewardship layer as a reliable resource

Creative Problem Solving: A Few Examples
At each stage of the development process, challenges were encoun-
tered. In addition to the problems already discussed, two others
warrant further attention. First, assessing map quality from differ-
ent sources can be a significant obstacle. Most managed areas have
some type of boundary delineation; however, it may vary from le-
gal boundaries described in text to generalized, hand-drawn bound-
aries. Each source has its own set of problems. Kansas GAP has
chosen to use only boundaries for which maps are available at the
1:24,000 scale and can be delimited on USGS topographic maps.
This allows us to maintain a particular level of accuracy and reli-
ability for the stewardship layer. The ability to rectify these bound-
aries to the 1:24,000 DOQQs also significantly improves our confi-
dence in the data set.

A point coverage has been created for those areas for which accept-
able maps are not available. This point coverage allows attribute
data to be collected for these areas. Attribute data include the size
of the area as well as ownership, management, and protection sta-
tus information. GISSAL also offers agencies partnership oppor-
tunities to develop GIS databases for managed areas. KDWP, for
example, has partnered with GISSAL to develop databases for wild-
life refuges. Part of the development of these databases includes
creating an accurate boundary layer. Both KDWP and Kansas GAP
benefit from this endeavor.

A second significant challenge is maintaining an up-to-date data-
base of attribute information. GISSAL is developing an Access
database that includes key contact persons, managed-area informa-
tion, dates of data acquisition, protection status by both KBS and
GAP standards, and other pertinent information provided by GAP
partners. In addition, all data can be related back to the steward-
ship coverage through ARC/INFO-generated managed-area id num-
bers. Converting the coverage to a shapefile allows the .dbf file to
be opened in Excel. The attribute data can then be manipulated

using either Excel or Access and reattached to the main steward-
ship coverage. The ability to move data seamlessly through these
programs greatly enhances the potential uses of the stewardship

The above problems are representative of other challenges for which
unique and creative solutions are necessary in order to complete
and maintain a statewide stewardship layer. Kansas GAP is still
developing its database of managed areas and seeking new ways to
enhance the usability and reliability of the data.

Developing a comprehensive spatial database at the state level pre-
sents challenges for both spatial and tabular data acquisition and
integration. This article outlined the basic process being utilized
by Kansas GAP to develop a stewardship layer. Integrating the
stewardship layer with land cover and species habitat models is the
next step toward completing a spatial database and delimiting gaps
in habitat protection.

Literature Cited
Beardsley, K., and D. Stoms. 1993. Compiling a digital map of
areas managed for biodiversity in California.
Natural Areas

Crist, P.J. 1998. Mapping and categorizing land stewardship. A

Handbook for Conducting Gap Analysis, National Gap Analy-
sis Program, Moscow, Idaho.

Data Access and Support Center (DASC). 1991. Orthophotos.

The Nature Conservancy (Kansas Chapter Staff). 1998. Konza
Prairie Research Natural Area.

Welch, R., M. Remillard, and R.F. Doren. 1995. GIS database
development for South Florida’s national parks and preserves.
Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing 61:1371-1381.

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