County agencies to receive $1.2 million research grant from NASA
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The Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (District) and Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency) will receive $1.2 million dollars in remote sensing data through a NASA research grant. 

The District and the Water Agency are co‐leads in a consortium ‐ which includes multiple county departments, cities, NGOs and public agencies ‐ to bring high quality vegetation, hydrology and climate data to Sonoma County.

NASA awarded the grant to the District’s and Water Agency’s academic partner ‐ the University of Maryland ‐ to use Sonoma County as a prototype to develop tools for measuring and monitoring forest carbon. As a result, Sonoma County will receive newly collected LiDAR data and six-inch aerial photography for the entire county that will enhance the ability to assess and monitor carbon stocks, document sea level rise, map groundwater and assess vegetation and habitat. 

Once the University develops tools for forest carbon monitoring from Sonoma County data, they will combine these tools with NASA spacecraft data for monitoring forest carbon stocks worldwide.

Yesterday, the Board of Directors for the Water Agency and the Open Space District approved a joint resolution supporting the acceptance of the NASA data and providing matching funds to the effort. “We are thrilled to be part of this internationally important research effort” exclaimed District General Manager Bill Keene. “Not only will these data and tools greatly enhance the District’s planning and conservation efforts, they will also enable Sonoma County agencies, cities and landowners to map floodplains, conserve wildlife habitat, assess wildfire risk, model stormwater runoff, address climate change, detect landslides, and model sea level rise. The value of these data to Sonoma County and its citizens is immense.”

According to Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt “the Board has directed county agencies to work together to be more efficient with public funds – we are pleased to be a partner on this important project that brings in outside funding and relies on high quality scientific data to support sound decision making.”

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