During the summer of 2020, an ABR team of land rehabilitation experts provided technical support to Usibelli Coal Mine (UCM). Their goal was to help UCM design and implement a vegetation survey of the Two Bull Ridge Mine area. The purpose of the survey was to find out whether Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) performance standards were met by the revegetation program in progress there. This year, we continued to provide support to UCM's reclamation program at the Two Bull Ridge Mine area as we conducted the second year of vegetation surveys.
In connection with our vegetation surveys for UCM, we are working to explore ways to incorporate new technologies into these types of surveys. This year, we began a pilot study comparing the classification of vegetation cover based on images collected with an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to those collected during ground-based surveys. For several years, DNR has been collecting, processing, and analyzing multispectral imagery from UAS platforms to support land rehabilitation assessments on the North Slope and at mining sites in Interior Alaska, but the results have not been compared to traditional field survey techniques used to calculate vegetation cover estimates. Our pilot study with UCM will bring us one step closer to taking full advantage of the versatility and efficiency of UAS platforms for our vegetation survey work across Alaska.