Stronghold Retreat Center GIS Data Management and Mapping

In the process of ecological restoration planning for Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center in northern Illinois, AES developed an extensive Geospatial Database using high-resolution aerial imagery and remote sensing for conducting field investigations, and as a tool for long-term management and education.

AES Geospatial used both bare earth and first return LiDAR datasets to better understand the natural resources and cultural history of the 326-acre Stronghold property. Situated along the scenic bluffs of the Rock River, this property includes an IDNR-designated Illinois Natural Area, and has a diverse and rich combination of karst, cultural and vegetation resources. These were explored and mapped quickly and accurately with the help of State of Illinois LiDAR data.

Sixteen sinkholes of various sizes, ten historic quarries, numerous historic trails and other cultural impacts were easily detected and mapped using a bare earth digital elevation model (DEM) along with 2-foot generated contours and shaded relief visualization. Hydrologic features such as drainages and erosion gullies were also mapped.

With the predominance of woodlands in this area, the Canopy Height Model derived from the first return LiDAR provided tremendous insight into the current forest structure and the historical impacts that created it. This led to the important discovery, collaborated with historical aerial photos, of former agricultural fields that were clearly visible in both the canopy height model and the surface DEM.

These findings greatly improved the delineation of vegetation communities and guided the restoration plans that followed. The LiDAR data provided flexibility in generating derivative map products, such as contours at multiple intervals, slope, shaded relief and elevations which greatly improved understanding and communication.

  • Remote Sensing + Analysis
  • Aerial Imagery
  • GIS Modeling
  • LiDAR Mapping

Ogle County, Illinois
326 Acres

David NelsonStronghold Retreat Center GIS Data Management and Mapping