Upcoming Fire Training

For all you fire bugs in California, there are three upcoming training sessions you may not want to miss. Take note:

2017 Klamath River Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX)

Slated for October 2nd, 2017 to October 15th, 2017 in Orleans, California, this training will provide participants with experience on how to plan and implement controlled burns, protect communities from wildfires, and prepare for managing wildfire for resource benefits. Complete the application here.

Please note: you’ll have to pass the arduous pack test (3 miles, 45 minutes, 45 pounds). S-130, S-190, FEMA IS-100b, and FEMA IS-700a are also required prior to attending the training. However, these can be completed online. And don’t forget your full PPE!

Courtesy of Lenya Q. Davidson

NorCal TREX – 2017

Another similar training (with the same requirements as above) will be held October 17th, 2017 to October 28th, 2017. This one will be held throughout Northern California depending on personnel availability and the weather. The aim of this training will be to work together to share and build experience in prescribed fire practices, fire effects, and other conservation efforts affecting forest and grassland in northwestern California. NOTE: This training will be managed as an incident using the Incident Command System.

If interested, apply here.

Courtesy of Chris Ferner

Women-in-Fire Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (WTREX)

For all the awesome ladies in fire, there will be a women-centric training in Yosemite National Park from October 9th, 2017 to October 21st, 2017.

The training will be organized as an incident, using the Incident Command System. Participants will serve in qualified and trainee firefighting positions on a burn team and will assist with preparing, scouting, briefing, igniting, holding, mop-up, and patrol on numerous controlled burns in the area. The training team will also complete pre- and post-fire monitoring, train with equipment, practice fireline leadership skills, and learn about local fire ecology and fire management. The work will take place in diverse ecosystems in and around Yosemite National Park. The training will include field trips to areas burned in recent wildfires and to prescribed fire and fuels treatment project sites, as well as presentations from local scientists, land managers, and practitioners, and women who are leaders in various aspects of fire management. In addition, participants will practice preparing for media interviews.

Yes, all the same requirements for the normal TREX training apply to this one, too.

Male or females can apply here (though a higher portion of females will be selected from the pool of applicants).

Sadly, I will not be able to attend this year’s WTREX as I will be in New Zealand. But next year, I’ll be there!

All training sponsored by the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council, National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, BLM, CAL FIRE, UC Cooperative Extension, California Fire Science Consortium, USFS, and FLN.

Conference Season!

Most years, I usually watch the conference season from afar.

But this year I get to join in the fun. Below are the two I shall be attending. How about you?

CalGIS/LocationCon 2017

  • May 22 – 24, 2017
  • Oakland, California

This year’s theme is “Building Bridges” and is co-hosted by CalGIS (URISA) and LocationTech. This year’s conference will host a diverse schedule and attendees. The CalGIS community tend to represent GIS best practices in government, non-profit, education and consulting in California. The LocationTech community represents folk who develop advanced location aware technologies via collaboration with commercially-friendly open source software.

This conference will meld the “old” with the “new”. I’m excited about learning more. The three-days are packed with lots of talks, sessions, and trainings.

ESRI’s UC in San Diego

  • July 10 – 14, 2017
  • San Diego, California

ESRI’s User Conference (UC) is probably the largest gathering of GIS professionals anywhere in the United States. The last one I went to was over 10 years ago.

This year’s UC boasts over 300 hours of moderated sessions and over 450 hours of training.


I won’t be able to attend all five days of the conference, but I do intend to be there for the bulk of the week and learn as much as I can from my peers and industry professionals.

I’ll report back on each. Until then, enjoy all the opportunities to travel.

What happened to 2016?

My last post was almost a year ago. What happened to 2016? It went by in a flash.

Regardless of how much I’ve neglected my website this past year, I thought I’d take this opportunity to update it with… stuff.

GIS/Software Advancements… or not

ESRI continues to lead in the desktop-GIS environment. As much as QGIS remains the go-to open source alternative, ArcMap along with ArcGIS Pro, remain the industry standard for government and private use. No matter how much folks would like to disrupt the status quo, that’s pretty much what we have to look forward to in 2017.

Web Mapping

Just about EVERYONE is jumping on the web mapping bandwagon. In addition to ESRI’s ArcGIS Online services, there are a host of other companies offering the same (and sometimes better) web mapping services. This past year I tried Carto (was CartoDB). You can check out my public profile here. I haven’t added very much; just a couple of boundary layers. I can say that the interface is very easy to use and the base maps as accurate as Google Maps. The free account version automatically makes all your data and maps public. One aspect of web mapping that I like is that many of the services have tools to help you interpret your data and not just symbolize it. It is definitely taking GIS to ‘the masses’.


To drone or not to drone… that was the big question for 2016. And while many folks have purchased a drone (they are nifty), they are not as ubiquitous as we all thought they would be by now. One of the biggest draw backs of owning a drone is what to do with all that data. Software to accurately process all the imagery can be expensive. While there are many applications where drone surveys are reducing costs, if you aren’t just going out to make a quick movie, gathering data via a drone can end up being more complicated and costly than you might expect.

And the commercial use of drones is still not without controversy. The new FAA rules (effective August 29th, 2016) mandates some limitations that might make gathering the super accurate data you were after a little more difficult.

Women in GIS

My colleagues and I continue to bring together women working in the field of GIS and geospatial industries. Recently, we’ve had an influx of interest to pursue our causes. Together, we came up with this cool graphic to show what Women in GIS means to us. Check it out:

As a fund-raising effort, we hope to have products emblazoned with this graphic in time for the 2017 conference season.

Cool Map

Throughout the year, I am exposed to some pretty nifty maps. Some are static maps, while others are interactive (in real life!).

Here’s one that I thought worth sharing:

An Atlas of Electricity

Until next time, enjoy the end-of-year festivities and may 2017 bring you contentment and success.


Women in GIS

Last year, I joined Women in GIS, an advocacy group geared towards helping women and minorities navigate their careers in geospatial industries.

Actually, it is more accurate to say that I got (willingly) sucked into an administrative role with the organization. I’m managing their website and I’ve conducted a few interviews. While we don’t have a lot of content on the site – yet – I have high hopes. Right now, a group of women are working hard to develop an organization that will be useful to their members and inspiring for an entire field.

However, we are just a bunch of volunteers. We don’t exactly have a mission other than to network and support each other. Kind of like a big, global therapy group. Sometimes, I wonder if Women in GIS is even needed.

So…why are we form a group?

Good question

Like many tech oriented fields, women tend to get marginalized where men have traditionally dominated.

GIS – Geographic Information Systems – is a field born from the proliferation of computers. In 1962, Roger Tomlinson, often touted as the father of GIS, began the first steps of cataloging natural resources in Canada. In doing so, he created the first GIS.

It is important to note that GIS has a father, but not a mother. Why is that?

In the 1960s, though women were starting to make strides, only 38% of us went to work and we traditionally occupied positions less cerebral than men. Many of us working at that time just didn’t hold the kind of jobs that would put us in place to do the kind of work to develop an entirely new computer system. It wasn’t just that we weren’t working, but we weren’t professors, surveyors, or engineers.

By 2004, women accounted for 60% of the labor market, and we started holding more tech-oriented, managerial, and professional positions.

Woohoo! Good for us, but last year, in California, Governor Brown did something astounding. He passed a law prohibiting employers from forbidding their workers to compare wages and the law also required equal pay for similar work regardless of gender.

Let’s back up a bit and think about that.

In the year 2015, just about 100 years after the women’s suffrage movement started in United States, a governor of one of the largest states in said union had to pass a law to ensure women were compensated equally for their work.

We should be embarrassed. After so many years of fighting for equal rights in the work force, women shouldn’t still have to be protected by a law. It should be standard business practice.

But it is not just about equal pay. It’s also about who is doing the work. Women remain under-represented in the information technology industry. Just take a look at this handy graphic put together by National Center for Women and Information Technology:

btn_04032015_webWhile women make up more than 50% of the educated work force, we hold less than 30% of the jobs in computing. The numbers get worse the higher you go up the corporate ladder, with only 6% of Chief Information Officer positions being held by women.

As an Hispanic woman, I’m especially appalled by the last statistic on this graphic: Only 1% of the computing workforce are Hispanic women.

One percent!

There is no reason other than sexism and racism (either overt or unintentional) for these numbers to exist. While I like to think we are all playing on the same field, with the same resources, and similar connections, we are not.

One is a lonely number

So, why form a group advocating for women and minority voices in GIS?

Because if we don’t, our voices will not be heard. Like other tech-oriented industries, GIS relies heavily on computers and it is easy to not see us. Anyone working in GIS is somewhat annoymous. Though metadata helps to attribute data to individual GIS professionals, industry maps rarely attributed to their creator. It is not easy for a girl, trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life, to see us – to see women in GIS and geospatial roles. They see women as models, actresses, waitresses, nurses, but when are they going to see a female GIS professional? Unless we go out and actively recruit young women and minorities, our industry will remain white, male-dominated.

So, let’s stand together and be seen. Join me in bringing the world to every girl’s attention.

Show Off

I don’t often get a chance to showcase my work.

As a consultant, much of what I do is confidential. However, at times, I get the opportunity to work for a non-profit or on a public project, and that means I can share.


Recently, I was approached by Friends of the Gualala River (FoGR), to create a few maps of the planned timber harvests adjacent to the river in northern Sonoma County, California. The challenge was to quickly and effectively show the currently planned logging areas with those that had been conducted in prior years.

The maps that accompanied the timber harvest plans looked something like this:

Portion of original timber harvest plan map (courtesy of CDF, 2014).
Portion of original timber harvest plan map (courtesy of CDF, 2014).

Serviceable, for sure, but the maps had a lot of data, were very hard to read, and it was difficult to determine context.

So, I was asked to take just a few key components of the map, and create something more visually appealing, and give a better sense of where the units were in relation to a seaside community and adjacent parks.

Here’s the result (you can click on it for a bigger version):

Created for FoGR, DMS, 2015.
Created for FoGR, DMS, 2015.

To be fair, I didn’t have to include as much information as the original map. The focus was to highlight the adjacent community and provide an aerial for context. Everything else was disregarded. I think it looks alright. What do you think? What would you have done differently?

To see more, visit FoGR’s post on the project.

Airports and Trails

Another project I recently got a chance to work on were the trail development options at the Truckee Airport District in Truckee, California.

Truckee Airport Trail Option map, DMS, 2015.
Truckee Airport Trail Option map, DMS, 2015.

The goal of this map was to show the trail development options in relation to the surrounding trail system and possible connection points.

Neither of these project were technically challenging, but it was nice to just create something that met my clients’ needs and I could share.

Story Maps for All

While I appreciate a well-designed paper map, there’s no denying that most folks hangout in the internet more often than not and rarely do we print stuff out anymore. So, why not do the same for our maps?

For the two projects above, I create two simple ESRI Story Maps:

  1. Gualala River – Proposed Timber Harvest Plans
  2. Truckee Airport District Trail Development Options

Story maps are interactive maps that use narrative (and sometimes pictures) along with a map to highlight a problem or solution. While I didn’t use the Story Maps to their full-potential, I hope from these simple examples you can get a glimpse of their potential.

If you would like to see more cool maps, check out the Interactive Web Maps link list to the right (if you’re on a desktop) or scroll down to the bottom of the page (if you’re mobile).

Geographers on the Bay


I have always wanted to go to an Association of American Geographers annual meeting. While a long time member, I don’t participate much in the organization, but going to one of the meetings has always intrigued me.

In my mind, I imagine the meetings filled with astute professors, students, and professionals discussing all the latest findings in geography and related fields. For some reason, in my head, they are all smarter than I am. If I were to insinuate myself into their ranks, they would  discover I’m not a real geographer and kick me out. What a nightmare, huh?

Because the meetings have been held on the east coast lately, I’ve been able to indulge my (ahem) strange fantasy.

In 2016, I have no such excuse (fear?) to keep me from going!

From AAG's 2016 annual meeting announcement.
From AAG’s 2016 annual meeting announcement.

The next AAG annual meeting is in San Francisco, just a stone’s throw (okay, a bit more than that, but you get the idea) away from me. It will be held from March 29th to April 2nd, 2016. I plan on registering. Will you?


Just a friendly reminder: GIS Day 2015 is rapidly approaching. On November 18th, 2015, the North Bay GIS User Group will again be hosting an education-filled day with geographic activities for school kids, a map poster contest for students, and presentations for adults. Join us for the entire day or just come for the swag (there might be t-shirts this year).

Did I mention it’s free?

Save the date and come join us at the Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa!

Loma Prieta Anniversary

I almost forgot I created this map (click on it to get a bigger version):

Loma Prieta Earthquake 1989 v2

I did it quite some time ago and I should probably update it to a web map (another thing to put on the to-do list…).

Regardless, this anniversary along with the recent quake in Napa, California is a good reminder to update your emergency preparedness kit.

What’s in your kit?

Frankly, my is rather poor. I have a 5-gallon bucket with a couple of jugs of water along with a flashlight – batteries are near dead. I definitely need to update that! From the Red Cross, here’s a basic list of items to have at the ready:

  • Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit – Anatomy of a First Aid Kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

Where were you during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake?

I was at my apartment in Davis, California – asleep (yes, I take afternoon naps). It woke me up, but only long enough to say, “What was that?”

Sixty three victims of the quake were not so lucky.

CalGIS 2014

Is over!

Did you attend? I did and I’m very glad that I did so. I sat in on the Open Source session on Monday where we were awed by the free (yes, free!) GIS software packages out there, specifically QGIS and MapBox. I’ll be delving more into both in the next month and will post about my experiences with each (both good and bad).

The second day of the conference featured two talks: one by Mike Migurski from Code of America and representative from Google (didn’t catch him name, there was a switch up in the presenters, but I’ll have his name by the time I post again!). Both talks were inspirational, but also a little scary. The industry is moving so far beyond my current skillset, I wasn’t sure where I fit in.

That afternoon we had a “town hall” discussion about geospatial education and whether our current educational programs was meeting the industries needs. Sad to say, but it became clear that geospatial programmers are hot on the list. We were then bombarded with several lightning talks (5 minutes each) from a variety of participates, each showing off their special projects – from Geocortex Web-based GIS to UC Merced’s new service center called SpARC.

The third day started out with a bike ride – which I was unable to participate in – darn allergies! But the day soon got started with several break out sessions. I attended the When People Move In, Data Data Data, and New Tricks and Tools sessions. I’ll discuss more from each in subsequent blog posts.

And lastly, the conference’s final two keynote speakers, Eric Gundersen from MapBox and Jack Dangermond from ESRI, gave some rousing rhetoric about where they each see the future of GIS. Again, very interesting and just a tad bit scary. I’ll explore some of the issues they discussed in subsequent blog posts. Suffice to know that each made me think long and hard about my chosen profession and have made me more committed to the geospatial sciences than ever before.

Until next time, map it!

Central Oregon Fire Science Symposium 2014


Will you be attending the Central Oregon Fire Science Symposium next month?

I will!

Here are the specifics:

3rd Central Oregon Fire Science Symposium – Please Join Us for an amazing “Week of Fire”

The week kicks-off Monday morning with the Ecological and Social Effects of Fire, a four day introductory course aimed at fuels and resource specialists and students interested in fire ecology offered in conjunction with the Central Oregon Fire Science Symposium and the Oregon Prescribed Fire Council meeting.

On Tuesday and Wednesday scientists will share their research at the 3rd Central Oregon Fire Science Symposium. Of particular note will be presentations on the recently completed Forests, People, Fire project; the effects of the Pole Creek Fire; fire history in lodgepole pine; fire in moist mixed conifer forests; wildfire and insect interfaces; and the effects of fire in Great Basin ecosystems.

Thursday is the inaugural meeting of the Oregon Prescribed Fire Council which will bring together a diverse group of people from around the state to discuss common issues of prescribed fire and the formation of a formal organization.

Join me in Bend, Oregon April 7th to the 10th, 2014 as we learn more about fire in our western landscapes.