BROOKVILLE, Ohio — The Montgomery Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) is always looking for innovative ways to assist the citizens of Montgomery County with water and erosion problems. A new project that will occur in spring 2019 brings a new approach and advanced technologies, supported by a nationally recognized partner, to aid the Montgomery SWCD in reaching new heights.
The Montgomery SWCD will collaborate with the Sinclair College National UAS Training and Certification Center to employ an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), otherwise known as drones, to survey using still imagery and video over a section of Wolf Creek in western Montgomery County. Other project operational partners include the City of Brookville and Perry Township, with the project funding provided through an allocation of $5,000 from the Montgomery County commissioners and an additional $2,500 from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
The section of Wolf Creek that is the focus of the project runs between Westbrook and Heeter Roads and has been highly impacted by an increasing number of fallen trees and other debris that have created logjams or other blockages. The spread of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle, which feeds on and kills all native ash trees, has led to an enormous amount of dead trees falling into the creek.
When logjams dam a creek, the normal flow of the creek is blocked, lessening the amount of water the creek can carry, which can lead to flooding. The water flow will seek to go around the logjams, creating large areas of erosion that eat away the edges of the creek. The soil that had been part of the creek bank is washed into and then carried along by the water. This soil, called sediment once it is in the stream, prevents fish and other life in the stream from finding food and fills in the low places between rocks that they need to survive.
Flooding and erosion problems are also a concern to the landowners along the creek. These property owners came to the Montgomery SWCD for assistance and filed a Senate Bill 160 request. This request started the search for a reasonable way to evaluate the amount and location of the logjams. The partnership with the Sinclair College National UAS Training and Certification Center will enable quick and efficient collection of imagery and video over the creek that can be used to make informed decisions about the location, extent, and impact of any logjam blockages. This in turn will enable determination of the best means of removing debris to restore the natural flow of the creek, thereby preventing future flooding and erosion issues.
“The staff of the Montgomery SWCD are excited to be part of this innovative project and are thankful to our partners for their funding and expertise,” said Stefan Bridenbaugh, district technician at the Montgomery SWCD. “Through projects like this, we can more efficiently and effectively help the citizens of Montgomery County by preventing flooding and erosion while protecting the water quality and habitat of our streams.”
Qualified Sinclair UAS pilots will fly the UAS following all applicable regulations and laws and when weather conditions are appropriate for the collection goals. It is estimated that the flights, which will cover approximately three miles of the Wolf Creek, will be completed in just three days, representing a significant savings in time and personnel effort.
“We are always happy to assist our local partners through the application of cutting-edge UAS technologies,” said Andrew Shepherd, executive director and chief scientist of the Sinclair College National UAS Training and Certification Center. “Dayton is a great place to test and implement UAS for important projects like this. There is a great spirt of collaboration and is it exciting to be part of the growth of a whole new sector of the aviation industry.”
Sinclair College’s National UAS Training and Certification Center sits at the forefront of UAS innovation, creating partnerships, developing leading curriculum, and investing significantly to establish a nationally prominent program dedicated to meeting the workforce needs of the growing UAS industry. Sinclair’s UAS program supports applied research and development, consulting, and training leveraging leading expertise and advanced unmanned and manned simulation, indoor flight facilities, aircraft, sensors, avionics, maintenance labs, additive and traditional manufacturing labs, data analytics software, and a wind tunnel lab. For more information, visit uas.sinclair.edu.
The Montgomery Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) partners with individual land owners as well as groups of landowners affected by flooding and drainage issues to find solutions that balance environmental concerns with solutions. Other services included assisting the residents of Montgomery County with farmland preservation, Rain Barrel and native tree sales, evaluating properties for ponds, storm water assistance, and educational programming. For more information on the Montgomery SWCD, go to www.MontgomerySWCD.org.
— Montgomery Soil and Water Conservation District
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