MES: Critical Areas Assessment using Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Winter, 2003


The Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) of 1990 was enacted in response to unprecedented population growth and urban sprawl.  It required local (city & county) governments of fast-growing regions to develop and adopt a comprehensive plan.  One of the key requirements of the GMA was to identify and protect Critical Areas and Resource Lands.  Critical areas are defined as wetlands, groundwater recharge zones, fish and wildlife habitat, flood zones, and geologically hazardous areas. 


Growth Management Act:


In this elective we will use the GMA, in particular the Critical Areas designation, as a theme for GIS analysis.  We will examine how Critical Areas are identified and delineated, learn the theory behind GIS, and use ArcGIS as a tool to analyze and interpret spatial data.


Faculty:                 Ken Tabbutt                        extension 6558

Schedule:                Monday 6:00 – 10:00                 Computer Applications Lab (CAL) in Lab II

Thursday 1:30 – 5:30                Computer Applications Lab (CAL) in Lab II


Due to high demand there will be two separate classes, one class will meet Monday evenings and the other on Thursday afternoons.  Both will meet in the Computer Applications Lab (CAL).   The classes are not interchangeable.  If you are unable to attend a lab, you can’t make it up with the other class…you are on your own to make up the work.


Expect to do substantial reading and workshops prior to class.  Class will be devoted to lecture on GIS theory and the GMA, followed by a Problem Set (lab assignment).  Occasionally the Problem Sets may take longer than time allows and will become homework assignments.  Students will also be expected to complete an independent or small-group project involving the application of GIS. One of the texts, Getting to Know ArcGIS Desktop, comes with a fully functional 180-day trial version of ArcView 8 and data for working the book’s exercises.  With ArcView you can create maps, query data, edit and analyze spatial features and attributes but ArcView is not as powerful as ArcInfo, the application we will be focusing on.


Week 1 (January 6th)

Topics: Introduction to GIS (ArcINFO and ArcView) and Growth Management Act

Workshop: Navigating ArcINFO (ArcMap, ArcCatalog, and ArcToolbox)

Excercises 3a,b and 4a,c; Problem Set 0

Reading: GKAD, chapters 1, 2, 3, & 4

  GIS, chapters 1


Week 2 (January 13th)

Topics: Introduction to GIS (raster and vector data)

Workshop: Sea Level Rise and Shoreline Flooding

Excercises 5a,b,c,d and  6a,b; Problem Set 1

Reading:  GKAD, chapters 5 & 6 (7)

  GIS, chapters  3 & 7


Week 3 (January 20th)  NO CLASS ON MONDAY: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Workshop: GPS Data (Monday class will meet Saturday morning, January 18th)

GIS Workshop

Project Proposals Due (by email)


Week 4 (January 27th)

Topics: Projections and Coordinate Systems and Growth Management Act

Workshop: Delineating Wetlands using GIS

Exercises 13a,b; Problem Set 2

Reading:  GKAD, chapters 13

  GIS, chapters 2


Week 5 (February 3rd)

Topics: Raster Data Analysis, Terrain Mapping and Critical Areas

Workshop: Terrain Analysis

Exercises 8a,b and 9a,b; Problem Set 3

Reading:  GKAD, chapters 8 & 9

  GIS, chapters 11 & 12


Week 6 (February 10th)

Topics: Creating and Editing Features and Attributes and Geologically Hazardous Areas

Workshop:  Slope Stability Model

Exercises 14a,b,c, 15a and 16a,b; Problem Set 4

Reading:  GKAD, chapters 14, 15, & 16 (17)

GIS, chapters 4, 5 & 6


Week 7 (February 17th)  NO CLASS MONDAY: Presidents’ Day

No Monday or Thursday Class this week.


Week 8 (February 24th)

Topics: Data Analysis and Wetlands and Groundwater Recharge Zones

Workshop: Groundwater Recharge Zones based on Susceptibility

Exercises 10a,b, 11a,b,c and 12a,b,c; Problem Set 5

Reading:  GKAD, chapters 10, 11, & 12

  GIS, chapters 10, 14


Week 9 (March 3rd)

Topics: Data Presentation and Flood zones

Workshop:  Identifying Flood Zones

Exercises 19a,b,c,d; Problem Set 6

Reading:  GKAD, chapters 19 (18)

  GIS, chapters 8

Research Projects Abstracts Due


Week 10 (March 10th)

Topics: Fish and Wildlife Habitat

Research Project Presentations



Required: Ormsby, Tim, Napolean, Eileen, Burke, Robert, Groessl, Carolyn, and Feaster, Laura, 2001, Getting to Know ArcGIS Desktop: ESRI Press, Redlands, CA, 538pp. (GKAD)


Optional: Chang, K., 2002, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems: McGraw Hill, New York, 348pp. (GIS)


Book Buy-Back Program: Rip Heminway (CAL Manager) will buy your Getting to Know ArcGIS (with or without CD) for half-price at the end of the quarter.


Subdirectories (Folder)

Program Subdirectory: Workspace on MASU/PRG_MESGIS    

Getting to Know ArcGIS exercise data: Public on MASU/GTKArcGIS