Aerial Photography and Remote Sensing

The Refuge commissions aerial photographs (Bergman Photographic Inc.,
Portland, OR) during the vegetative growing season, to determine whether salt marsh plants are colonizing and to visualize these geomorphic changes. These true color photographs of the Nisqually Delta allow scientists and managers to track changes in habitat through time. The aerial images on this page show tribally-managed restoration on the east side of the river (completed in 1996, 2002 and 2006) and the major restoration on the west of the river (in 2009). The photographs allow for visualization of the Delta pre and post dike removal. Click each image for a larger view.


Aerial photographs shot at low tide, when mudflats and channels are at maximum exposure, are valuable tools for visual documentation of water drainage off the landscape and geomorphic change. These photos are georeferenced using landmarks so scientists classify color infrared pixels into land cover classifications (such as water, mudflat, wetland vegetation, upland vegetation, and bare ground) in GIS mapping software. Remote sensing techniques such as these are valuable in tracking vegetation colonization over
a large area through time. These data are also supplemented with on-the-ground vegetation surveys. (View more on the Vegetation page of this site)





These aerial photographs clearly show changes in vegetation and geomorphology through time as a result of dike removal. Restoration has occurred on both the east and west sides of the river, with the largest restoration occurring in 2009.