Lidar Data Collected by Woolpert for USGS Helps Prioritize Flood Risk, Speed Recovery at Yellowstone

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Thanks to the efforts of local officials, data was procured quickly to mitigate the impact from unprecedented flooding that closed the national park.

PARK COUNTY, Mont. (July 5, 2022) — In June, days of heavy rains and snowmelt led to the flooding of Yellowstone River and rivers in other parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, causing what the U.S. Geological Survey referred to as a “1 in 500-year event.” The flooding destroyed bridges, swept away roads, spurred mudslides, led to the evacuation of more than 10,000 visitors and temporarily closed Yellowstone National Park.

Immediately following the flooding, local GIS officials contacted USGS and Woolpert to procure lidar data recently collected across Yellowstone and Park County, Mont., to aid in their response. Steven Jay, Park County GIS/IT analyst, said the data, including collections over many remote and densely forested areas, is needed to model the terrain, prioritize areas at a higher risk of flooding and identify areas of erosion.

Woolpert and USGS responded to this request and delivered lidar data and imagery within 24 hours, helping accelerate recovery and providing needed resources to help the park reopen. Woolpert Vice President John Gerhard said this event and the swift request from Yellowstone officials for current and accurate lidar data and imagery illustrates their value in emergency response and recovery. He said these collections have been driven by USGS, its 3D Elevation Program and its 3D Hydrography Program.

“USGS has been working to update the National Map to ensure that needed elevation data are routinely collected for multiple applications, especially in times of distress,” Gerhard said. “As our land and seas evolve, these data and other efforts, like the Greater Yellowstone Climate Assessment, provide invaluable resources in our fight against climate change. We will continue to support these efforts in Yellowstone and these key USGS initiatives however we can.”

About Woolpert

Woolpert is the premier architecture, engineering, geospatial (AEG) and strategic consulting firm, with a vision to become one of the best companies in the world. We innovate within and across markets to effectively serve public, private and government clients worldwide. Woolpert is an ENR Top 150 Global Design Firm, has earned six straight Great Place to Work certifications and actively nurtures a culture of growth, inclusion, diversity and respect. Founded in 1911 in Dayton, Ohio, Woolpert has been America’s fastest-growing AEG firm since 2015. The firm has 1,900 employees and more than 60 offices on four continents. For more, visit woolpert.com.

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