Mar 8, 2024

At the McCosker Creek Restoration site, 3,000 linear feet of creek channel that previously had been flowing through underground culverts since the 1950s was daylighted and reconstructed. In addition, invasive and non native plants were removed and replaced with over 5,000 native plants. The restoration was also designed to support erosion control, and provide habitat for wildlife and aquatic species including rainbow trout, California red-legged frog and the Alameda whipsnake. This restoration work began in 2020 and concluded in 2023.

UAS surveys were conducted in 2019 for a pre-construction survey, in 2022 for an intermediate survey, and in 2023 for a final survey after the project was completed. Each of these surveys resulted in high resolution true color orthomosaic imagery, Digital Elevation Model 3D point clouds, and 3D mesh models. These products can be used to illustrate the change on the landscape in more synoptic and relatable ways than many other sampling monitoring methods alone. High resolution photography collected using UAS can help provide a literal snapshot in time of what a site looked before, during, and after a restoration project occurs. UAS products can be used to map natural resources and infrastructure of interest, support and direct more intensive survey and monitoring activities, and effectively convey the impact of the restoration work. 

The UAS equipment available and deployed for each subsequent survey represented significant improvements in technology that enabled quicker and safer operations and resulted in higher quality and accurate products. From one year to the next, vehicles leveraged improvements related to flight planning and terrain follow capabilities, object detection and avoidance, return to home accuracy and capabilities, sensor resolution, and Real Time Kinematics (RTK) GPS capabilities. 

These improvements to SFEI’s UAS capabilities enables the Institute to more efficiently conduct UAS monitoring and surveys in more complex environments, and results in more accurate and useful data for scientific monitoring and communication materials to share with our stakeholders and the public.

Other Contributors: 
Carmen Erasmus
Katy Hornbeck
Matt Graul
Kristen Van Dam
Brook Vinnedge
Ed Culver