Title III of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (ANILCA, 1980) established the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge (TNWR). Section 304 of the Act requires the Secretary of Interior to "prepare, and from time to time revise, a comprehensive conservation plan" for the refuge. Before developing a plan for the refuge, the Secretary shall identify and describe--a) the populations and habitats of the fish and wildlife resources of the refuge; b) the special values of the refuge as well as any other archeological, cultural, ecological, geological, historical, palentological, scenic, or wilderness value of the refuge; c) areas within the refuge that are suitable for use as administrative sites or visitor facilities… ; d) present the potential requirements for access with respect to the refuge… ; and e) significant problems which may adversely affect the populations and habitats of fish and wildlife identified and described... (ANILCA, 1980). Vegetation, water, and terrain (elevation, slope, and aspect) are the components of habitat and can be used in the determination of the above requirements.
The U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has the responsibility for collecting the resource information to address the research, management, development and planning requirements identified in Section 304. Because of the brief period provided by the Act for data collection, habitat mapping, and habitat assessment, the USFWS in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey's EROS Field Office, used digital Landsat multispectral scanner data (MSS) and digital terrain data to produce land cover and terrain maps. A computer assisted digital analysis of Landsat MSS data was used because coverage by aerial photographs was incomplete for much of the refuge and because the level of detail, obtained from the analysis of Landsat data, is adequate to meet most USFWS research, management and planning needs. Relative cost and time requirements were also factors in the decision to use the digital analysis approach.
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