Up Close to the NC Coast with the NCBIWA Spring Meeting & Mapping the CNMI with Megan Blaskovich of Woolpert
From North Carolina to the Northern Mariana Islands
This week, Peter Ravella and Tyler Buckingham are back with another great two-part show. Leading off are Kathleen Riely and Ken Willson to talk about the North Carolina Beach, Inlet & Waterway Association (NCBIWA) upcoming Spring “Local Governments” Meeting. Kathleen is the Executive Director of NCBIWA and Ken serves on the organization’s board. Come along and learn all about the Spring Meeting, which will be held on Monday and Tuesday April 26-27 at The Islander Hotel in Emerald Isle, N.C. as well as virtually though NCBIWA.org.
In Part 2, Peter and Tyler welcome Megan Blaskovich of Woolpert to learn about her work with NOAA, USGS, and FEMA to map significant parts of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and surrounding seafloor. Specifically, Megan is the project manager for this work and in the second half of the show she takes us through the dirty details associated with running a sophisticated GIS mapping project half way across the world in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Join us as we nerd out on all things Lidar (which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, in case you didn’t know). Only on ASPN!
Peter Ravella 0:00
Hello everybody and welcome to the American shoreline podcast. This is Peter Ravella. co host of the show
Tyler Buckingham 0:05
And this is Tyler Buckingham, the other co host
Peter Ravella 0:07
Tyler, we got a two part show coming out today. I'm really looking forward to it. We're going to be talking to some of the leaders at the North Carolina beaches inlet and waterways Association NCBIWAs about their spring meeting.
Tyler Buckingham 0:21
Peter Ravella 0:22
good name, NCBIWA conference coming up April 26 and 27th really an important meeting North Carolina is a leading an innovative state in coastal management. Really cool to learn about there are many United States really many United States chance for people around the country to listen in on the professional conversation from North Carolina I think it's gonna be a great opportunity to to hear what coastal professionals are doing in that great state
Tyler Buckingham 0:48
And learn about this upcoming meeting which is sounds like it's gonna be pretty interesting.
Peter Ravella 0:54
It is the walk us through it but North Carolina is a place to pay attention to when it comes to coastal policy.
Tyler Buckingham 1:00
And that's only one half of this show pit is canceled.
Peter Ravella 1:04
That's part one of this two parter, and it gets better in part two Megan Blaskovichis a geospatial maritime expert with Woolpert engineering. Woolpert is is a professional engineering firm expert in geospatial management. They have been doing a tremendous amount of mapping work in the Northern Mariana Islands. And we have the project manager for that project, Megan Blaskovich who is going to walk us through what it's like to do mapping and geospatial development work in the Northern Marianas. That's a cool show. So I'm looking forward to talking to her
Tyler Buckingham 1:40
working with the federal government on some pretty bad ass stuff out there. So it's a two parter, ladies and gentlemen, and we hope you enjoy it. But first, let's have a quick word from our sponsors.
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Tyler Buckingham 2:20
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Be sure to subscribe to the coastal news today. Daily blast newsletter at coastal news today.com for daily updates on the events and news that shaped the coastal discussion. Want to support the discussion and promote your company? We have sponsorship packages available now. Email me to learn more at Chloe at coastal news today.com that's ch l o e coastal News today.com. Hope to hear from you and enjoy the show.
Peter Ravella 3:36
Well, welcome to the show. And thank you for taking time to be on the American shoreline podcast Kathleen and Ken appreciate your time.
Ken Willson 3:43
Great, thanks. It's great to be with you guys today.
Peter Ravella 3:46
Kathleen, if you would not mind as executive director of the North Carolina Beach inland and waterway Association, which we will be referring to as NCBIWA is how they call it in North Carolina. Tell us about your organization introduce our audience to what what NCBIWA is all about?
Kathleen Riely 4:05
Well, I've been Executive Director for about five years. And the organization prior to May the executive director was the one who founded the organization and it's been around for about 25 years. We have two events per year, a spring local governments meeting which is focused on issues pertinent to local governments and policy. And as any November conference, fall conference, which is a little more technical, but also has some policy issues. We tried to you know, expand the agendas, meaning that not make them too myopic so that we can keep up with changes and new ideas and so forth and so on. And it's a really great way to bring people together and the organization when it got started was very much focused on these events. We're very big on public private partnerships. We work with all three levels of government, federal, state, and local. And the events allow the us the opportunity for those three levels of government to get together with the private sector with an academic twist to it. So we have the academics, which are key to information, getting information out there, and a government all rolled into one. So that's sort of how the organization got started was to bring those groups of people together and to have discussion and conversation on issues pertinent to the coast. We also advocate for the coastal issues. Initially, we were very much involved on the federal level, especially with Word Up and with their congressmen and senators. But over the years, especially since I've walked in, I brought more of a state government twist into the into the whole group, because a lot of the funding that we're not getting at the federal level has now become incumbent upon the state. So we spend our time advocating, both on the state and federal level. But we have a focus at this time on the state level, because the North Carolina General Assembly is in its quote called long session, which is a time that you know, you want to be involved in introducing sales for the organization. You know, Connie, God started a little bit give it is bringing folks together advocating for sound policies and getting funding. That makes sense.
Tyler Buckingham 6:52
Yeah, well, it sure does. And boy are those organizations that do this sort of thing, Peter, all around the American shoreline. Just so important. Educating politicians, getting convening people getting them together, developing best practices as you go could go on and on. It's just absolutely important work. Kathleen, before we move on to Ken, though, I want to learn a little bit more about you. What What is your path into this to be the executive director of this of this of NC byways? I mean, how, how did you prepare yourself for this kind of job?
Kathleen Riely 7:28
Well, years ago, I practice environmental law. So I've always had an interest in the environment. And I'd actually been a presenter at an NCBIWA meeting years ago. So I knew the prior executive director, I was familiar with the organization. And when the prior executive director departed, I was actually contacted by one of the board members on a question, say that, I guess five years and I say, right, I'm about this opportunity. And at the time, I was running another environmental nonprofit. So I said, Okay, let me let me check it into it. And I interviewed with them. And at the time, they offered me part time because the funds were low, and I was running another organization, so I'd had other income. So I said, Okay, and I took it over and just grew it into what it is today. I mean, the bones were there, the structure was there, the organization had a great board, it had a great history. It had a very interesting sort of the way it was set up. And I thought that this was a great opportunity to take something and just really, it grow, it exploded, you know, it has grown. I mean, our attendance at our meetings is doubled to triple what it was, you know, when I got started, and our presence in government, as well as the elected officials is growing as well. So the organization always had a good basics, and I think it just needed to be, you know, put on some steroids and pushed down a hill really fast.
Peter Ravella 9:25
I love it. And it's been a controlled ride down the hill to great success. Ken Willson, you are a practicing coastal engineer, longtime professional on the coast, have done a lot of work in North Carolina over the years now with coastal protection engineering out of Wilmington, Ken, why is it important for you as a coastal professional as an engineer to take a leadership role in NCBIWA and dedicate your time and energy to this organization?
Ken Willson 9:57
Yeah, thanks. So quick, quick, quick clarification. sort of play an engineer on on TV A lot of times, but my main background is really in coastal geology at the age of 18, came down from, from from Baltimore to go to school here in Wilmington, North Carolina. And I was happy to take out residency here. But all my initial training was in coastal geology, actually, I was only here for about two weeks before Hurricane Fran came through. So that was kind of my initiation in the coast of North Carolina back in 1996. And from there, you know, after getting a bachelor's degree and a master's degree here in Wilmington, I went into the professional field started working for what was coastal plain coastal planning and engineering at the time, I moved down to Florida for a few years and got oriented into the professional environment. And then it was about 2007, I got to move back to back to North Carolina, my my wife was was smart enough to advise me that that that would be a better move that we should move from South Florida and go back to go back to to southeastern North Carolina. So we ended up putting roots down here in Wilmington in 2007. And that's probably about the time that I first got involved in NC byway started going to the meetings have probably been to every meeting since 2007 2008. And then, about six or seven years ago, I was fortunate enough to be elected to the board. And a couple years, couple years back, I was roped into being the treasurer on the board. So it's been a fun ride. But yeah, I mean, as a, as a professional as somebody that, you know, now nowadays, it's more client management and business development, that sort of thing. But, you know, this is just a great organization, not only to like Kathleen said, to advocate for sound policy and in the state, but just the benefits as a consultant that the organization provides to be able to network with the types of clients that two types of representatives from the local beach communities who are the majority of our clients, as well as a lot of other professionals, I mean, their agency folks at these meetings, there are researchers at these meetings, and there's a lot of consultants, which you would say, Well, those are your competitors. But, I mean, you guys have been around long enough, you know that this industry is a very tight knit industry. And, you know, it doesn't take you very long to be in the industry and you know, most of the major players in that industry. And, you know, so we, we see it as Yeah, there's you know, friendly, friendly competition within the industry. But you know, we really feed off of each other at these at these conferences, we you know, we pay attention to each other's presentations, we learn new things, we talk about things over beers. And we get a lot a lot out of these particular types of conferences.
Peter Ravella 12:52
Well, there is a ton to talk about in North Carolina. For the listeners out there, the meeting is coming up April 26 and 27. So just just right around the corner, the registration and I think this is a this is an this is a meeting that is of national interest. When I look at this agenda, you can register at NCBIWA.org You can also find the registration information on coastal news today. Kathleen, in your role as executive director over five years, you've been on the front row of some of the most innovative coastal management strategies I think around the country, both in terms of the comprehensiveness of the North Carolina shoreline management program and the financing of those projects in North Carolina, Carteret County, dare County, for professionals around the country listening in firsthand on what's happening in North Carolina i think is absolutely valuable because there's some real innovations here and you have an incredible agenda. Tell us about your impression of the role you have in the organization and what makes North Carolina coastal and waterway management. interesting to you and to perhaps participants from all around the country.
Kathleen Riely 14:20
Well, I too moved to Wilmington and oh seven Can I didn't know that and I'm also from Baltimore. So can't can't my my sidekick there. You got to give him a shout out because he's a big help. If we have a very interesting coast because it's so varied. We have inlets, waterways, beaches, I mean if you really look at I think we have more inlets than any other coast in the country and maintaining those inlets is a challenge. So what I see is is my biggest hurdle is getting money and getting money from Hopefully the state to maintain the coast, the state has not been as much involved North Carolina is very interesting. They are being from Maryland, mer, the General Assembly in Maryland, the legislature in Annapolis really does support their coast. People I know in South Carolina people I know in New Jersey, and in Connecticut, where I live for 10 years, it was the same way, North Carolina is a little bit of a challenge. And if you're east of 95, it is very difficult to get your voice heard in Raleigh, because North Carolina is very focused on the Research Triangle, which is Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham and Charlotte, that sort of center corridor. That's where most of the votes are. That's where most of the people are in the General Assembly representing those areas because of the more condensed population density. And it's very hard to get them to really understand and value the coast. And that was really surprising to me. Because I'm in all my years and I'm I'm old, I'm in my 60s, that's been around for a while I've not seen this sort of disconnect in the state as I do here. Now, I'll say that North Carolina is a very big state, you have mountains, you have beach, it's a gorgeous state. It's almost like a little United States, you know, you've got mountains to the west, you've got and you've got these academic and medical centers in the center. But it was really a challenge getting the legislators to really understand the value of the coast. And to appreciate that investing in the coast. The return on investment in those dollars is really brought back into the state coffers. And I think that was that was a big challenge. I think also to get them to recognize that our coastline and our beaches, there will be buffers, I mean, they impede a lot of the damage from the storm. So not only do they generate revenue from the tourism industry, but it really helps to buffer and protect the coastline. You know, building the beaches out these beach renourishment projects actually protect the coast and therefore the state. And that's been a bit of a challenge. We're making headways we're doing well. Right now there are two bills in the General Assembly, I just sent out my legislative update right before going on his podcast that are for funding, getting funding for coastal storm damage mitigation projects. So I think that that's that's a challenge. As far as the more technical I do defer to more my technical people like Ken and others, but I will say that, you know, you're not going to get anything done if you don't have the money to pay for it. And you're not going to have the money unless you get people to understand the importance of it. And to get them to really appreciate the investment of the dollars are well well well worth the return. And that that's something that we've been very focused on. And having these two events gives people the opportunity to talk about it now. Now, this event, like the November meeting was is a hybrid event. So you can tune in virtually or in person. And of course, there's nothing like being in person because that's where you really get to talk to people face to face and really get to make those connections. But you know, we're doing the best we can with a hybrid and so far, it's been pretty good. I would say getting the funding and keeping the funding is also key. It's one thing to get a line item in a budget to have something funded and we have to go back every year and advocate for that. But to get a steady recurring funding source is going to be key and this is the first bill 372 the General Assembly introduced by one of our coastal representatives, Pat Miguel Raff who is phenomenal. This will set up a reoccurring funding source. And we had the same battle several years ago with the shallow draft inlet fund. Keeping our inlets dredge was very important. And once again, it was a well we'll put money aside do it this year type of thing, but they were able to establish a recurring funding source probably all guess that seven years now. So we're hoping to do the same thing because the storm damage mitigation fund. If we could if we could keep the shallow draft in let fund Those recurring funding sources and that this recurring funding source established trying to stay coastal storm damage mitigation funds. I think that's money coming in to maintain our codes. I think that's very important.
Tyler Buckingham 20:13
Wow. Well, there's my Lord. NCBIWA, ladies and gentlemen is kicking ass is what it sounds like. And
Kathleen Riely 20:21
That's it man, that's how we roll.
Tyler Buckingham 20:24
it. You know, Kathleen, you say you're from Baltimore. I knew I knew it started with the B. I knew it was maybe Brooklyn, or Boston, or Baltimore.
Kathleen Riely 20:34
Yeah it's that Northeast attitude. Right? Yeah.
Tyler Buckingham 20:37
I it's coming through. It's coming through. And I, I appreciate this agenda. And it sounds like the spring meeting will be an excellent forum, to kind of advance the advance these causes, informing local government, people, people from industry about just how important this can be. And they can then maybe take that to Raleigh, and try to get this law passed. But can before we go through, we're going to go through this meeting agenda, Peter and like, actually,
Peter Ravella 21:12
yeah, I think it's a great agenda. I look forward to talking totally
Tyler Buckingham 21:15
appreciate the hybrid model. I have not seen this quite yet. Very interesting. But Ken, before we begin, I before we go through this, the agenda I want your geologist, coastal geologist, what is your favorite North Carolina coastal geological feature? Yeah.
Ken Willson 21:39
When I, when I was in school, I worked under Dr. Bill Cleary at the time as an undergraduate researcher, and really got interested in in tidal inlets. Lots of interest there, some of our earliest projects that I was involved in, were heavily involved in tidal inlets. And then when I jumped into the private sector, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with, with Tom jeric, here in North Carolina, who is you know, essentially a household name in coastal engineering in North Carolina, worked with the Corps of Engineers for 30, some years before retiring and coming to work with with our firm back in 2002. And, you know, he had done an awful lot of work with some of the title inlets throughout here. So just, you know, column kind of following in the footsteps of some some pretty, pretty big shoes and having the opportunity to see them work. And some of the research that they they had done throughout their careers and build off of that has been really exciting for me. And then, probably in the last 10 years or so, we have gotten, we've gotten to work with a lot of the Northern Outer Banks, communities, deer County, we do a lot of work with them with their navigation program in the town of duck, the town of Kitty Hawk southern shores and kill devil hills as well. And it's, it's just, I mean, every day when you when you actually get to jump in and do some of the science and look at the, you know, the sediment transport and, you know, look at some of the numerical models that we're running and the volume changes that we're measuring. It's, it's just a special place up there in the Outer Banks, the forces that are at work, you know, some of the offshore bathymetric features that we see, and how they interact with the beaches. It's, it's a full time job to keep up with that. I was actually doing a an interview for ASB pa for shore beach a few few weeks ago with Tom Jared because he had, he had won the Moreau p O'Brien award, back in 2019. And we were working on an interview for sure a beach. And, you know, he was going through all of this, all of the science that he you know, he was instrumental in developing and, you know, for somebody that's my age, you know, this is stuff that you just look in a textbook and you pick up and you read, and you say, Okay, this is how we do it. And he's talking about how they were actually figuring this out on the fly. And, you know, it, it was really, it was really illustrative to kind of kind of see how that all came to be. But even still, with you know, all of the all of the computing power, the numerical models we have, you know, we still see things all the time that you know, that that just don't line up with what the textbooks tell you that that it should be. You know, like I said, when you get the opportunity to dive into the science and the engineering, it's, it's just really exciting. It's a great job.
Peter Ravella 24:32
It is a great job and and organizations like NC, by way play a critical role in the advancement of sound coastal management and policy in America. And there are a variety of organizations that are similar in coastal states around the country. But NC byways and Kathleen I loved your description of the politics of the issue in North Carolina. The difference between a state that is that is an East West state where it much like Texas, the political power is in the inland part of the state. It presents very special challenges to the coastal community to to bring concerns forward to the state of North Carolina. It goes all the way to the Appalachian Mountains and Asheville and communities of interest are very distinct. We have a similar situation in Texas, there are about 13 coastal counties, if you depending on how you how you count them in about 253 counties total, the political power, even with Houston, even with Corpus Christi isn't truly on the coast. So you're always in this dynamic of trying to educate legislators and policymakers and funders about why the investment in the shoreline is important. And NC by ways that blends local government activists and activists, his professional technical expertise and political savvy, man, this is essential, it has to be there to be successful. And I have to ask you on Hb 372, the the bill to give you a recurring stable funding source for coastal projects in North Carolina. Are you optimistic about the bill?
Kathleen Riely 26:30
Um, yeah, I actually am I think, I think this one has a chance of getting through. I'm really hoping from what I hear it is moving forward. Now, of course, when a bill gets introduced, and it goes to different committees, it'll get chopped up, it'll get altered, so forth and so on incumbent in that bill is the deed stamp, the transferred tax 30% of it going to a coastal storm damage mitigation, okay, that could be cut down to 20% 25%. Who knows. So there's always the tweaking that goes on and the backdoor conversations, not always privy to force, but it's there, it's gaining momentum. While I was in Raleigh, actually Ken was with me, we met with the lieutenant governor who is head of that Senate, and we talked to him about the bill and explained to him how important it was and he got it even though he's not a coastal guys from Greensboro. He, he understands he's a smart guy, Lieutenant Governor, Mark Robinson. And then I also have a meeting with the with the senate majority leader, she's new. And she's going to meet with with men and want to explain to she's not a coastal person, and hopefully explain to her the importance of it. However, I got to give a shout out to the prior senate majority leader who was Harry Brown, who was from Onslow County and coastal County, he's the one that really brought a lot of these issues to the forefront in the General Assembly. And it was, you know, when when you get key lead people and key leadership positions, put on those committees, as well as Majority Leader. Those people can really bring the agenda forth for for the coast or for whatever you're advocating for. So we were we were very fortunate that we have some coastal legislators in some very key positions in the General Assembly right now. Yeah. And that's what you have to I mean, a lot of politics is striking. while the iron is hot, as they say you have to once things are lined up, you could see them moving forward, you really got to get in there. And
Peter Ravella 28:58
it sounds it's absolutely true. And I wondered, Kathleen, if you don't mind me asking a more detailed question. With respect to the bill, you said it's a document transfer fee that it would set aside 30% of the the fee collected on the transfer of real estate this is this is not an uncommon funding mechanism. I believe Florida. I know employed it in the past, they may still today as well, I believe is that right? New Jersey as well. So it's not an increase in the amount of the fee but a redirection of the free fee revenue into a special account to invest in the North Carolina cause Is that right?
Kathleen Riely 29:38
Pretty much I'm pulling the block now. Okay. Yeah.
Ken Willson 29:41
The I mean, I can chime in a little bit, go ahead and dig on some details. But I mean, one of the reasons why. One of the reasons why we are pretty encouraged is that you're right. It's not an increase right now that those funds go into the into the general fund, but it's a redirection of those into not only the storm damage reduction account, but let's folk but three other accounts. And by by putting that into three other accounts, I think the folks that are that are pulling this bill together have made some good allies throughout other parts of the state. And so they really do have a pretty good consensus right now to drive this bill home. And that's why we are really so encouraged with with the way that things are moving. We've seen some pretty good news articles, if you believe what was written in the press, but you know, there there are some folks that are supporting this bill that don't always align with, you know, some of the things that NC byway is pushing for, but there are some, some good alliances that are coming together and supporting this bill, because of the other the other different accounts that that this money would help, you know, help promote different causes.
Peter Ravella 30:50
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Well, smart politics, I agree. Got it. You got to build a coalition. I like to say in Tyler, we've worked on local financing for shoreline management projects is the funding source has to be as persistent as the waves. That's what we used to say. The problem is not a project problem. It's a program problem. It has to be long term. any sense, Kathleen, if this bill were to pass, how much annually would be dedicated into the into the shore protection account for the state?
Kathleen Riely 31:23
I'm not sure. And you know, I'm not gonna put out a number. Okay. I just don't know. Yeah. And I'd hate to put a number out and find that. It's not that much or more whatever, I think we just have to focus right now, like Ken said, there are four different areas or groups that it's allocated to 30 3030 and 10%. So I just hope that we could keep keep an eye share of these, the stamp excise taxes to the coastal storm damage mitigation fund, there is another bill actually. And she introduced it gets money for flood mitigation. And I fun for flood mitigation. And I always said, You know, I remember last year being up there going, you know, you need to look at the these coastal storm damage mitigation project is beach renourishment project as building a buffer. It's protecting its mitigating damage from storms. You know, for every dollar invested pre storm, you save anywhere from two to $3. There's a lot of numbers out there, who knows, and post event cleanup. So you know, here that, you know, Department of Public Safety, and then the federal level, you have FEMA and so forth and so on, you know, funding these disasters after the fact we're very reactive in our political system has on the state and federal level, oh, my God, you know, we have a disaster, it's fine. The money, well, trying to get legislators on the state level and members of Congress on the federal level, because think, proactively and saying, look, you wouldn't be spending all this money, if you would just take these steps, you know, to sort of mitigate future damage, right. And then we're finally starting to get it. But I think this is very important. And I think that the money coming from the DEA stamp excise tax is one thing, but also when you look at the funds for natural disasters, why not take some of the funding from that and put it in to pre storm mitigation projects? Right? I mean, because if money's gonna come from that pot to clean up mess, why can't we take some of that money and put it in a pot to mitigate damage? So you're not spending so much after the mess happened?
Tyler Buckingham 33:52
You know, it's definitely one of the conundrums of the coast. But you know, Kathleen, I think you said it earlier in the show. Why should if you're asking yourself, why should I care about what's going on in North Carolina, if I'm not from North Carolina, working in North Carolina, or, you know, involved in a shoreline elsewhere on the American shoreline? Well, the answer is the North Carolina is kind of a mini America. And the same challenges that Kathleen, you're articulating about going into Raleigh, are similar with other folks all over the place when you go to Washington, DC and you talk to a representative who might not be on the coast who doesn't is not educated, so on and so forth. But let's talk about we got to talk about the meeting. Coming up here, ladies and gentlemen, April 26 and 27th of this year, virtual and in person,
Peter Ravella 34:46
a week after the show comes out.
Tyler Buckingham 34:48
That's right. So you got time to make an emergency appearance if you want to. But, Kathleen, would you kind of take us through here. Day one, we're starting brightened early 740 By breakfast, take us through the the first day here of the spring meeting.
Kathleen Riely 35:07
Well, the spring local governments meeting, we always put the panel for the state legislators first because the they need to be in Raleigh in the afternoon, early afternoon. So that way, if they want to come in person, they can they can get in this particular case in a zoom in. But that set up for them, because that time probably one of the only times you can get them all together. And with that, we usually have an update from a division of Water Resources. Now the division of Water Resources is within the Department of Environmental Quality. It used to be Diener, um, that's where the funding is out. It goes to after the General Assembly, get puts X amount in for storm damage mitigation projects and shallow draft inlet. So they actually handle the funds and the grants and so forth and so on. So when the local government, when they need money, they they contact the division of Water Resources. That's where they apply for those funds. And Kevin Hart runs that fund and he's on our board is an ex officio. That's good. So we also have an update from the North Carolina division of fiscal management, Braxton Davis. He's also an ex officio board member for NC byway. So he gives his update on what's going on with the division of coastal management and of course, always an Army Corps of Engineer update. As I'm on the podcast with you, I just got an email from Christine Braman zooming in, and someone else is going to be there talking, so I got to add him in all these last minute changes. Yeah, of course, tourism, it's a natural partner to the coast, right. I mean, we need tourism, tourism needs us, we need them to bring people in. We need them to help us secure funds for the council. Kathleen,
Peter Ravella 37:08
it's a great start. And and, and it's smart for the organization to have a broad a broad representation from the legislature right off of the bat with the agencies who run these programs, and the federal government. This is how the work of educating and bringing the agenda forward occurs. It's such a great meeting set up and I do want to say because you can attend virtually, if you're in another state, the ability to listen in to the conversation in North Carolina to see what they're doing is super valuable. So if you're in Alabama, or you're in Texas, or you're in California, or up on the eastern seaboard. This is a quality discussion that you guys have put together here. And I'd encourage people to, to listen in because it's a great setup. And as Tyler said, the issues that you are trying to work through are not unlike the issues in other places. The specifics differ but the fundamental idea of solid funding, policy support state agent engagement right down the middle, Kathleen, really good, good start to this meeting.
Tyler Buckingham 38:22
Well, let's keep going I guess
Peter Ravella 38:24
join you in that I think it's a huge issue around the country how to tackle storm risk reduction management key thing panel Ken's gonna oversee, I also liked on. I also really liked on day two, I really appreciate this coastal partners meeting, it's good to see Derek brockbank on the agenda, the newly minted executive director of the coastal states organization, on the agenda along with Nicole Elko, so from ASB EPA. Can Why do these inter organizational partnerships matter so much when we start talking about effective coastal management?
Ken Willson 39:03
Yeah, I think some of it comes down to what I was saying earlier that this is a this is a relatively small industry. And, you know, the problem, the problems that we're dealing with here in North Carolina are not unlike the problems that are being dealt with at a national level with ASB, EPA and other states. You're talking about Texas. We've got offices down in Florida, we do a lot of work down in Florida, we've done work in Louisiana in the past. So these issues are being dealt with in a lot of different ways. And and you've got to be talking to folks that are doing this a little bit differently. And one of the things you mentioned earlier about sort of the creativity and the interesting things coming out in North Carolina is that you know, unlike unlike in Florida, where there's a there's a very well established state dedicated funding source and some other areas like New Jersey, where there's a Heavy presence of federal projects, you know, we've got our a few, a few federal projects that have been around quite a while here in North Carolina. But for the most part, most of the successful beach nourishment projects up and down the coast are things that have been done almost entirely locally funded. So not even, you know, Kathleen talked a little bit about the the initiatives to get state funding and we've had some dedicated funding for navigation sand for a while, and some communities that are fortunate enough to have access to navigation channels and inlets have taken really good advantage of those programs. But we still need something to be able to have the state participate regularly in these projects. But in the meantime, folks have not sat around, you know, with their, with their head in their hands, just whining and complaining about not being able to do anything, some really innovative programs have come out of this. And I know, you and I have talked a couple of times when we were working on the funding paper with ASB pa about you know, some of the things that have been done in Carteret County, some of the things have been done in dare county where, you know, very little federal or state funding into those counties for beach nourishment, but they're they are managing huge programs. And so, you know, we want to we want to tell our story to these partners to let them know, you know, what, what, what their, what their folks can do. And we also want to hear other success stories, because we don't, not all the great ideas come come out of North Carolina. So we want we want to hear from these other partners as well. So,
Peter Ravella 41:29
you know, can I just think, you know, when it comes to local leadership on the American shoreline, I think it my experience, having worked in Florida, having worked along the Texas coast quite a bit. And in the Carolinas, I think I've found some of the most professional and innovative thinking at the local government level in North Carolina. And this is why I think you what your organization is doing and what has been accomplished in North Carolina at the local government level is inspiring to communities that are struggling. As you said, there are a number of shoreline management programs that are fundamentally sound financially because of the leadership at the local level. It's really remarkable. And there's so much to be drawn from the North Carolina experience in it from what I what I've witnessed around the country. I would like to ask a question, Kathleen, I'm just dying to know more about this. This is kind of getting to the end of the under the program. But wind power is a huge discussion on the Atlantic coast of America. The manager for the wind coalition, the south eastern wind coalition, Jamie Simmons is on the program. Tell us a little bit about how that got to the agenda and what you hope to hear from Jamie Simmons, what's going on with wind power in North Carolina.
Kathleen Riely 42:56
Our governor, Governor Cooper is pushing very hard for wind energy and other natural sources, other environmentally sound sources of energies. So with that on the horizon, plus, you know, given North Carolina's coast, the winds on the coast, it just seems to be primed for it. So being on the board of ASB, pa and co chairing their Governmental Affairs, a proposed bill in the Senate came across my lap basically to review and it's called the rise act. And one of the things in that one of the topics is going to is a cost sharing with wind energy analogous to the go with go mesa is on the Gulf Coast, right? Yep. So I thought about that. And I thought, huh, if they're going to, you know, push offshore wind in North Carolina, we really should get in the forefront of this on the federal level especially, and work out some kind of cost sharing where North Carolina can benefit and the coast can benefit. So I did a little research and I'm not sure how I got Jamie Simmons name, but I did reach out to her. And she I had her prot her predecessor, the person that was there prior to her I forgot the gentleman's name, but he was on my master email list. He's no longer there. So when I reached out, Jamie got back, that's what happened. I told her a little bit about who we were and what we wanted to do in the meeting and she was thrilled to be on the agenda. So I think that and once again, it goes back what I said earlier, we have an agenda. We have these topics, but I like to think outside the box. Look at what's coming down the pike what's coming down the road in front of us and kind of stay on top of that and educated Members on what this is about, because it's much better to get information from an NC by way meeting than some kind of twisted narrative or skewed view out of a newspaper. So, I oftentimes like to have people on different sides of the issue, discussing issue. But I think that right now, just introducing everybody to this concept is going to be important, and it's something we'll keep following.
Peter Ravella 45:33
It's a huge topic. And I think the the interest of looking at the Gamesa model, which is the Gulf of Mexico, energy security acted as a revenue sharing model or statute. This is in federal waters for deepwater oil and gas development. Texas is a huge beneficiary as are the other Gulf of Mexico states. But it You're quite right, with wind power development and energy development on the East Coast being more in the wind sector, revenue sharing for the states as it could be an absolutely critical funding platform. For projects going forward. Really smart opportunity. Great to see that on the agenda. I have to say, Kathleen, looking at at your spring meeting and coming up April 26, and 27th attendance available virtually so anywhere in the country. There's just a great conversation here going on in North Carolina a lot to learn. I think you guys really have put together a great show. And I'm looking forward to listening in on the meeting coming up a week from the time this show comes out. Ladies and gentlemen, it is Kathleen Riley, the executive director of the North Carolina Beach inlet and waterway Association, joined by Ken Wilson, who's with coastal protection engineering and on the executive committee of NC byways board, to have the great professionals leading coastal thinking in the great state of North Carolina. We really appreciate you guys coming on the show. And great luck with the meeting. Find the registration folks at NC byway.org. That's NCBI wa.org or find the registration link on coastal news today. So we hope you if you're interested jump into that. Ken final thoughts.
Ken Willson 47:23
Oh, this has been this has been a lot of fun. And we appreciate the the opportunity to highlight the organization. So glad you guys are recognizing some of the great things that are going on in North Carolina. And we hope to keep that going.
Peter Ravella 47:36
We're glad to have you on and Kathleen, final word from the executive director. As always.
Kathleen Riely 47:42
Join us, it's a party.
Peter Ravella 47:46
It's in a great location. Well, thanks a lot to you both and have a great week and look forward to hearing from everyone at the meeting coming up. In part two of this show. We're going to be talking with Megan boscovich, a geospatial maritime expert with walpert, an int architecture, engineering and geospatial firm about the mapping and investigative work they're doing for NOAA and USGS in the Northern Mariana Islands.
Tyler Buckingham 48:14
Yes, and also learn a little bit about an amazing coastal company on the American shoreline. So that's one of the cool things that we get to do, Peter, is that these professionals work for companies and contractors for the government that do so much of the important work around the American shoreline is done by these very specialized, very capable companies. So today we're going to learn a little bit about woolpert.
Peter Ravella 48:39
So we're going to talk today to one of their great project managers from the world headquarters of woolpert in Dayton, Ohio. Joining us is Megan glasscock. Edge. And Megan is a geospatial and maritime expert and a project manager. She's leading a project in an amazing place the Northern Mariana Islands of all places. And so we're gonna learn about that today. And I'm looking forward to talking to Megan,
Tyler Buckingham 49:07
me too. Really, I'm I I'm really excited to learn about Megan, it really from the project managers perspective. I'm rubber meets the road This is it. This is it. This these are the lieutenants, the line battle commanders of the American shoreline, making sure that the troops go where they need to go that the projects get completed.
Peter Ravella 49:31
Yeah. Well, Megan, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us on the American shoreline podcast. It's great to talk to you today.
Megan Blaskovich 49:40
Hey, thanks, guys. Yeah, it's my first podcast.
Peter Ravella 49:46
It's a pleasure to be to be the ones but putting together the first show you been on and this is the first show we've ever done about the Mariana Islands. Before we dive into that specific project, introduce our audience to woolpert
Megan Blaskovich 50:00
Okay, yeah, so Woolpert is an architecture engineering geospatial firm, we're based in our headquarters or Dayton, Ohio. But we're really across the nation. And in the last few years and spread International, I work primarily in the maritime and geospatial program sector. So I manage a lot of the NOAA and the USGS projects is so much more than has been, you know, kind of focusing on the symmetry and towpath the LIDAR and coastal resilience, you know, all of that kind of postal mapping. And, you know, within that we have, you know, you know, like, 13 aircraft in our fleet, you know, we've collected, like, over 55,000 square miles cemetery. And that's just, you know, with kind of the coastal focus, you know, we also do all of the more traditional stuff that you would think of with, you know, geospatial, so write topo LIDAR imagery and planet metrics, and then architecture and engineering, which are fascinating, and absolutely not my specialties.
Tyler Buckingham 51:05
Well, no, but this is this is good. And thanks, Megan, for going over that. And I want to follow up and get a little bit more clarity, specifically, because when we hear architecture, engineering, and geospatial, those are big words, and this company has a lot of expertise. But specifically here, you mentioned having a fleet, we're talking to you, we're talking about your clients in the GIS and NOAA, but cemetry typography and this fleet of aircraft. Can you talk a little bit about just like, what how you collect how you do these things? What, what are you doing out there as a company?
Megan Blaskovich 51:42
Yeah, so um, we kind of are an end to end solution for, you know, any of the geospatial kind of products that you would see that you're kind of familiar with, you know, anytime you open up a map, you know, or an app or something, that data has to come from somewhere that base map imagery background, you know, all of the elevations. And you know, all of that starts with an agency, whether it be a federal agency or a state and local agency or somebody saying, We want this data in a contract Wilbert, and we'll look at the specifications, we'll have the aircraft, we have our sensors that we own, we'll go up, we'll collect all the data that they need, we will make it you know, just speaking of LIDAR, you know, we'll, you know, make sure everything meets the project's specifications, the point density, the classification, any of the value add products that they would want, if they want additional classifications, if they want contours derived from that, if they want, building footprints, deliver all that for the client, and then, you know, help them set it up, analyze it, do what they need to kind of get it out to whoever their end user base is going to be. So it's an end to end solution, we'll do it all from getting just a random, you know, polygon drawn on a map to putting, you know, plans in the air, processing terabytes of data, making it you know, manageable, pretty looking files at the end that you can just post out to your clients in like a digestible format and make it make it look effortless.
Tyler Buckingham 53:21
Well, no, it's not. And, you know, founded in 1911, Peter, it's the techniques have come a long way in these spaces. And it's neat to see a company evolve to really this is high tech stuff that is happening now.
Peter Ravella 53:38
It is indeed and you know, I think Megan with I think our coastal professionals know whether they're out in the South Pacific where you're working on this project at the Northern Mariana Islands where along the American shoreline, you have to know what's there and you have to understand it accurately. geospatial data and mapping is the foundation of good coastal management, and good shoreline management. So we want to talk about this project in the Northern Mariana Islands. I understand the client for this particular project that started in 2019 is NOAA, the USGS and FEMA, can you introduce us to this project that you've been spearheading as project manager?
Megan Blaskovich 54:20
Yeah, so um, we've received the task orders from USGS and NOAA for this project in spring 2019. So Wilbert is USGS does most of their contracting through their gypsey contracts. Now I have to think about I have to write it down to remember what the acronym stands for, but it's pretty much the USGS geospatial services contract, okay. And so FEMA was a funding contributor on that USGS portion of the task order and then Noah know as Office of coastal management has another geospatial services contract and that one is cgsc, which is the coastal geospatial services company. Okay, Wilburn is a prime contractor on both of those contract vehicles. So USGS and NOAA, came together kind of created a scope of work that would suit both of their needs, and then divided it into the two separate task orders. So each of the agencies was actually responsible for a portion of the funding. And instead of the deliverables, contracted Wilbert. And you know, since then we've been, um, even though it has been through contract vehicles, we've all been in communication with updating all the deliverables and making sure everything is being met. And again, this data is going to be used by USGS and NOAA ocm and FEMA and NOAA NGS was just the NOAA Geological Survey. So there's a lot a lot of interest, a lot of stakeholders in this data who've had input, and you know, making sure that you're getting the most value for it and kind of taking everyone's input. And really through the main contracts from NOAA ocm and USGS kind of
Peter Ravella 56:04
Northern Mariana Islands out in the Pacific Ocean, 185 square mile area, 14 Islands. And a lot of listeners may not know the Northern Mariana Islands, but they probably have heard of sigh pan, especially if they're any kind of a World War Two, historical buff of any kind of side pan in tinian, the island of tinian, which was the launching point for the Enola Gay, that dropped the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so a sad component of the island. But it's such a long way of way you're managing a project to map a maritime geospatial project really, literally around the world From where do you are located in Dayton, Ohio, talk about the logistics of executing this work? What kind of equipment Do you have to deploy? How do you manage something so distant like this?
Megan Blaskovich 57:04
So you pretty much have to set up another little office hub, you know, out in this, this little chapel paradise. For this project, we use an aircraft that was based out of New Zealand, and it was a 406. And you know, pretty much to get from New Zealand to you know, these islands, you have to kind of Island hop your way over. I mean, these are small aircraft.
Tyler Buckingham 57:32
Is that a Cessna? 406? Yes,
Megan Blaskovich 57:34
yes. I'm sorry, the Cessna 406,
Peter Ravella 57:36
twin engine, single engine, let's get into the airplane.
Tyler Buckingham 57:38
Yeah. describe this bird
Peter Ravella 57:42
I'm gonna look it up on the internet while we're talking. But the purpose of the aircraft, of course, is the platform for the LIDAR detection equipment, right? Is that what the Yes. Okay, tell us about? Yeah.
Megan Blaskovich 57:53
And so the LIDAR equipment that we were using for this project, we use the Lego chiroptera for
Tyler Buckingham 58:00
Peter Ravella 58:01
yeah, that's a good one.
Megan Blaskovich 58:02
And then we had the geek channel as well, which would make it the like, Hawkeye?
Tyler Buckingham 58:08
Yep. So it kind of mounts on Okay, so she's a twin engine bird, ladies and gentlemen. And sleek design. Yeah. For Cessna. Yeah, they're not known necessarily for having the sleekest design known for the sky wagon, the 172 and the 182. But here we see a sleek modern looking twin engine, propeller,
Peter Ravella 58:33
aircraft, prop turboprop LIDAR equipment located on the bottom laser finding equipment. Tell us about LIDAR and and how that's changed the world of geospatial mapping.
Megan Blaskovich 58:44
Yeah, I mean, LIDAR, it's people used to have to go out if they wanted to collect elevation data with you know, transits and total stations and triangulate and, you know, all of those great stories of surveyors kind of traversing and surveying the nation, and then moved to imagery where, you know, you would have collecting imagery and then making stereo pairs and, you know, digitizing over big, you know, light tables, and I'm, I'm sure I'm not that that was all honestly, before my time. Yeah. So I'm not an expert on you know, the kind of stuff copy imagery but then you know, minor came around and, you know, it just with the way the LIDAR pulses work, you can just collect the elevation data, pretty much from anywhere from the sky, you can fly large swaths of data quickly, you know, with the, the GPS, the IMU, which automatically kind of calculates, you know, the position you get incredibly high accuracy out of the sensors. And you can get, you know, so much density in your LIDAR in your points get so much detail, you know, depending on how many points, you know, you kind of contracted to individual trees, rooftops, you know, cars and driveways.
Tyler Buckingham 1:00:08
I mean, yeah, it's and and you know, Peter, we, when we go to ASB, PA, and we look at those poster sessions or go into any of those conference rooms, many of them you'll good chances our fair chance being Yeah, that when you look at the graphics, you will see a LIDAR generated image.
Peter Ravella 1:00:33
It's changed the world. And I think, Megan, as you said back in the day when it was done by hand, incredibly tedious. LIDAR has changed the world of mapping and geospatial mapping in particular enormously and particularly on these dynamic coastal environments where detail matters. I know that on the Texas coast, the LIDAR surveys of the shoreline are particularly important to identify the line of vegetation and the mean high water line, all of which have important regulatory implications. How did you become an expert in LIDAR? Or what? How did you learn this system as it came into the professional world over your career?
Megan Blaskovich 1:01:20
So I kind of graduated into this career, my, my start was actually not in geospatial it was an archaeology and I got into GIS through archaeology. And then, you know, I was a GIS specialist and got the opportunity become, actually an F SAR, radar analyst. And then from there, just got more into working with LIDAR, some of the other geospatial products that kind of complemented. And as I just kind of got more and more into it, I am kind of moved from the tech side, the analyst side to the management side.
Peter Ravella 1:02:01
Well, I you know, the The woolpert has been added in the Northern Mariana Islands, which, by the way, is a Commonwealth of the United States of America from back in the 1970s. But the project has been going on for a couple of years, as you said, starting in 2019, the data acquisition process all through 2020, and the development of the products that are required in the in the scope of work with NOAA and USGS. Did you did you map all of the 14 islands of the Mariana Islands? Or was there a particular focus and
Megan Blaskovich 1:02:36
We didn't map them all in this task order. So in this task order we mapped by pan pagan, Rota, tinian, FDM. And Jewish on,
Peter Ravella 1:02:52
okay. Gosh, there's
Megan Blaskovich 1:02:55
a couple that start with a. And I, I always get really, really nervous to say it, because I always pronounce it wrong.
Peter Ravella 1:03:02
about six, seven or eight of the 14. Yes, the ones and most of the population in the in the Marianas is on tinian and Saipan, and I think on rota as well.
Megan Blaskovich 1:03:14
Yes, so we collected those primary islands, and then, you know, pagan itself is another one of the large islands, you know, and that's kind of the farthest north content that one as well, but some of the smaller.
Tyler Buckingham 1:03:27
Okay, Megan, I got to interrupt here. Can you take me back onto the airplane? Yeah, I want to get back on board, the Cessna, flying. So like, let's say, let's just say for example, we're in data acquisition phase, and this morning, we're going to take off and we're going to fly around tinian. And we're going to collect data. What, what happens, who's on the aircraft? I know there's a pilot, are there some technicians on board? How is that done? And then is that does the airplane kind of fly in a grid pattern? How do they How do they collect the data?
Megan Blaskovich 1:04:02
Yeah, so there's the pilot, and sensor operator on board who's operating the sensor and prior to the going up in the air in the acquisition, we do layout as part of our initial setup, you know, the flight plan for the islands. And, you know, that's, it's kind of linearly based out. When designing the flight plan, a lot of things are taken into consideration, the point density that you want to achieve, how much cylab you know, kind of when you're flying lines next to each other, making sure you have enough overlap between them. So if anything goes off course a little bit you know, you're still gonna be meeting your density, your altitude, you know, particularly on an island like pagan where you're going to want to be flying relatively low. For the best, the symmetry. You know, pagan is has a big volcano and steep cliffs that it goes from ocean to very, you know,
Tyler Buckingham 1:05:05
tree top, just clip it just was in their tree top level, get that
Megan Blaskovich 1:05:10
metric, or even just like if you're not careful and just like firing flower into sight of a volcano. So planning your altitudes, very carefully stalking your flight lines and making sure you're getting the proper coverage with all of the proper safety protocols. And at the same time optimizing both topographic returns and the bathymetric returns.
Tyler Buckingham 1:05:33
Wow. So do you have like a flight director on your team? Who? Because it sounds like you have both the technician who wants to collect the right data
in and get that overlap? And all that?
Peter Ravella 1:05:43
Yeah, well put some pilots. And then you've
Tyler Buckingham 1:05:45
got your pilots who obviously need to select a safe route? And
Megan Blaskovich 1:05:49
yeah, so that's all coordinated? We do. You know, in our acquisition team, we do have the person who's kind of the expert, the expert with the corruptor a flight planning that specifically they create all the flight plans for that, and there is software, you know, that's designed to make sure you're not going to fly into mountains and soaking. And that is, you know, coordinated with, reviewed with the pilots, you know, making sure everybody's aware of any additional restrictions. You know, I don't think we ran into any on this project. But sometimes there are, you know, you'll have military bases where you can fly,
Peter Ravella 1:06:27
fly zone restricted areas.
Megan Blaskovich 1:06:29
And exactly, yeah, that's been talking about those on a different podcast. So we didn't have those here. But they're, they're out there, right. So they'll coordinate that with the pilots. And then that person is doing the flight planning isn't necessarily in the fields. That's kind of a prep step. And then in the fields on the pilot, and the sensor operator will decide, you know, which days based on weather conditions based on, you know, in weather conditions being cloud for the toboe side, but also water clarity to birdie, excuse me turbidity kind of swell for the bathy side of things. And they'll determine which kind of lions they want to go for that day. And then there will be a lot of back and forth between the that sensor either in the pilot and kind of the initial flight planner and data QC person who wants the data gets flown, they get it so they can review the data as quickly as possible in a fast turnaround to see if any rewrites are necessary.
Tyler Buckingham 1:07:26
Yeah, I could see that being really important. And is that person that the data quality control? Is that person back in Dayton, with you, I mean,
Megan Blaskovich 1:07:39
so a lot of that. Some of it can be done in the field. And we do have some sometimes it's done in the field. And then a lot of the barometric tip about the work is actually done based out of our Portland office.
Tyler Buckingham 1:07:54
Great city by the way, and great company. Look at, I mean, you seem to have the staff to have these offices. I mean, we're talking about how many, here's a question. In a, let's just say a flight. How many pieces of data are collected here? What are we talking about?
Megan Blaskovich 1:08:12
So in a specific flight, it really depends on I'm thinking in terms of flight lines, it really depends on how far you are. For instance, if we were based on Sai pan, and we were collecting my pan that day, we would be able to collect more flight lines and more data. Right. And we would if we were based on Samhain, and had to fly out to pagan and then fly around and get back to Sai pan on our fuel. Right. Overall, the whole project I've CNMI which was about 140 square miles of telco data, 73 square miles of bathymetric data, it was 599 flight lines. So that really varies Kind of day to day weather, the weather, but there's there's a ton of data coming back and with the Hawkeye deep channel, you know, the corruptor for it has both a red tomographic laser and a green bathymetric laser, it has a ton of points and there's a ton of data that comes through it also has a an RCD 30 camera that is plugged in the whole time to help us with QC. So it's ton pushing tons and tons of data through the process
Peter Ravella 1:09:27
gigabytes of data,
Megan Blaskovich 1:09:29
Peter Ravella 1:09:30
terabytes of data, a lot of information is available in this instrumentation that's now used in one of the interesting things I think, that a lot of people don't know is this bathymetric survey capability that can be done by aerial lasers. How deep of a typical profile can that system handle when you're flying a shoreline and trying to collect bathymetric data on the sea floor.
Megan Blaskovich 1:10:03
So that really can depend both on the strength of the sensor of the laser and also the water condition
Peter Ravella 1:10:11
and the clarity of the water. Yeah,
Megan Blaskovich 1:10:12
yeah, the clarity of the water is a huge component. So, you know, for instance, in the CNMI, where it's pristine water conditions is pretty much the best you can get
Peter Ravella 1:10:22
pretty good. Yeah, I would think,
Tyler Buckingham 1:10:23
yeah, looking at the pictures, and it's the clear water. Let's just say that.
Unknown Speaker 1:10:27
Yeah, it's nice.
Megan Blaskovich 1:10:30
I haven't been there. But I hear it's nice. I didn't get to go. For the chiroptera. The green laser itself, the standard chiroptera, shallow channel, you would probably get 15 to 20 meters. penetration in that clear water. And then
Peter Ravella 1:10:48
that that's getting depth
Tyler Buckingham 1:10:49
Megan Blaskovich 1:10:52
Yeah. And then with a Hawkeye. We were getting consistently 45 meter depths.
Peter Ravella 1:10:57
Tyler Buckingham 1:10:58
Yeah, that's incredible. It's from an aircraft. Yeah, you gotta think that efficient. That is, yeah,
Megan Blaskovich 1:11:03
we were flying. For the bathy, we were usually flying about 450 meters above sea level.
Tyler Buckingham 1:11:11
Sounds Sounds like a fun pilot job.
Peter Ravella 1:11:13
Sounds like a good job done it this whole? Sounds like it. Do you ever? This sounds like a really great job that you have? Do you enjoy it?
Megan Blaskovich 1:11:22
I do enjoy it. Yeah. And I really like the fact that I work on these projects that are in really interesting locations. They're not, you know, in a way, they seem like very untouched, compared to a lot of other types of projects that you can get, you know, they're beautiful locations, there's like a little bit of a sense of adventure, discovering something new with them. Plus, it's, these areas have been so under Nmap, for so long, it's the impacts of this data, and just knowing that I'm a part of this would be, it's gonna be a huge benefit, you know, over a place that you know, updates their LIDAR, like, every two years. Yeah. So it's gonna have a huge impact and kind of being a part of that. And, you know, knowing, I mean, I don't know the next time somebody will be going out and a company will be going on doing a full, you know, remapping in high density LIDAR, over the CNMI. So getting to be a part of it, this round is really very cool.
Peter Ravella 1:12:19
Yeah, it is. And from a from a, we can speculate a little bit or talk way, I'd like to talk a little bit about what NOAA and USGS hope to accomplish with this mapping project that you are managing. We all know that sea level rise is a concern, it is particularly a concern in the South Pacific and in the Pacific island nations, which tend to be somewhat low and somewhat vulnerable. In could you, could you tell us a little bit about what you think the implications are the use of the data that you're collecting? What do you think NOAA and USGS hope to learn from the work that you're managing?
Megan Blaskovich 1:13:00
So I think, you know, from the topographic side, it would be kind of identifying, what is the condition of the islands now? How big are they what are the features on them. So to kind of help set up a better baseline, you know, moving forward, also planning for coastal resiliency, like he said, with sea level rise. You know, FEMA, FEMA is a partner in the project, you know, again, for coastal resistancy, for hazard mapping. For the bathymetric data, there's also a lot of interest in benthic habitats, you know, what kind of corals are out there kind of Fisher up there, you know, so not only sea level rise and coastal resiliency, but also suddenly coastal health, which, you know, obviously very tied together. And then the data you know, would also be used by like I said, Noah NGS is another branch of NOAA, which is responsible for updating nautical charts and shoreline mapping. So potentially be used to help in that component. I'm trying to think of more more specifics, because the data set is going to be so vital to so many components there. I mean, even just, you know, mapping infrastructure out there on the island, it can be used for that too, right?
Tyler Buckingham 1:14:18
I think I think that like what's what's crazy about the modern world is just how into how important this data GIS topic topographic data has become to planning and managing coastal areas and frankly, everywhere is this is incredibly a part of the modern world. And so to go out and do the first real collection of this data in in the Northern Mariana Islands is important work. If you write it sets the baseline, I think it will be used in a myriad ways by the government, by NOAA, by FEMA, by all of the clients here on this USGS. And actually, that's what I wanted to ask you about Megan, you know, you you have three, kind of three clients in a way. And I've heard you actually described this as a partnership, which is interesting to me. And it just seems like it was a really successful relationship between woolpert and your federal partners in this. And I was wondering if you could comment a little bit on on, you're the project manager here. So you were kind of at the wheel. Any advice? Any, any, any stories? Or, you know, how would you size that up the the success of the partnership,
Megan Blaskovich 1:15:46
I think the success, I think it's been incredibly successful, you know, USGS and NOAA ocm, and I'm sure there are parts of NOAA, but I, this was specifically with no ocm have worked together. Before, and I didn't, you know, come on to this project with, you know, kind of a background and like relationship, you know, with Noah. So, that did help, but it was just, you know, having everybody at the table all the time, like the kickoff meeting, was like, I don't know, 30 people, it was massive. Just making sure, you know, everybody's voices were heard just kind of getting everything up, set up front as early as possible, and then just, you know, kind of bouncing things, you know, back and forth. Just a lot of communications. Everybody was really excited about the data. I think everybody gets kind of excited, again, about projects that are you know, like in the Pacific and these remote areas that just kind of sound like really, you know, exotic adventures I think everybody gets really excited about, yes, that kind of work. So it made it a lot of fun.
Peter Ravella 1:16:53
I think what's interesting and what people may not think about here is because the Mariano's is a Commonwealth of the United States called an insular area a special category. The Mariana Islands sends delegates, delegates to the Republican and Democratic National Convention, they participate in the presidential election, are they the citizens of the Marianas are not US citizens vote directly. They do have a delegate in the US House of Representatives, for example. So as a protectorate, they're part of the coastal management program system under the Coastal Zone Management Act that NOAA operates through the Office for coastal management. I mean, this is part of the work of NOAA, and FEMA, and as you say, USGS to assist with the management of shorelines in the coastal management program. And yeah, very honestly, isn't that system?
Megan Blaskovich 1:17:47
Yeah, no, it's also, um, you know, the USGS, they have three deck, which is, you know, that mapping, you know, making a 3d map of the nation. And this falls into that as well, you know, they want to get full conus, Alaska, everything,
Unknown Speaker 1:17:59
and you know,
Megan Blaskovich 1:18:01
CNMI is under that umbrella. So, you know, and that means all of the state is going to be publicly posted and available as well, once it kind of gets through all the PCs, and you know, all the final giants are created, it's going to be able to be used by everyone.
Peter Ravella 1:18:16
Well, I understand that the products of this maritime geospatial mapping project are coming are now in final preparation and final review step. Megan, when do you expect to see the finished product? And are they going to be made available to the public if they're interested in seeing it?
Megan Blaskovich 1:18:35
Yes. So I would expect them to be made available to the public probably later on this summer. They will be completely available to the public. I would imagine at least through no ocms Digital coast, but more and the USGS National Map. Yeah. I don't remember I don't remember if that is actually if you just type in USGS National Map, if that's the name of the platform,
Peter Ravella 1:19:06
digital digital coast for sure, I think, which is a likely repository,
Megan Blaskovich 1:19:11
because we'll Yes, digital, this will definitely be hosting it as well. And yeah, it will be all publicly available. Again, right now. It's just in file review, which is, you know, making sure the formatting all the metadata, all of the reports are kind of in line and ready to be going posted out. And once that gets wrapped up, we'll just, you know, make a couple, couple extra hard drives, send them on and then they'll get posted.
Peter Ravella 1:19:39
Well, I'm looking forward to seeing it. And like you said, there's something special about really looking at these incredibly great maps and because of the cameras and the visuals as well. It's super, super interesting. For those of us who like to nerd out on coastal data and information, this will be a great product to look for coming up in the summertime. So as you wrap up Maryann is project, Megan and looking ahead what's on your plate at woolpert as professional geospatial expert,
Megan Blaskovich 1:20:08
we have a whole bunch of work in Hawaii, which I'm managing across again, task orders with USGS know what I was saying ocm and no NGS we have a direct cast cord through them to them. We've already done some of the topographic mapping of the Big Island of Hawaii under a different task order under a previous task order to currently we're tasked to finish toboe collection over the remainder of the Big Island or the remainder of the primary islands in Hawaii. So big island, Maui, Molokai, the wahoo. But I, we have a total bathy collection over Hawaii, which is going to be the same specifications as the CNMI project. And then through NOAA, NGS, some of the further west northern Northwestern Hawaii, Hawaiian Islands, you know, the frigate shoals decorous? No. So all of those are also happening.
Peter Ravella 1:21:11
Well, it sounds like a great profession that you're in. And, you know, coastal professionals work very hard in the background, often behind the scenes, the public doesn't know a lot about what companies like woolpert do. And it's great to be able to talk about that a little bit and shed a little insight and the little inside information to the to our listeners out there about what goes into great customer management and great coastal mapping and geospatial work. It seems like a lot of fun and a great job that you've got, I got to think your your friends are occasionally like really? Do you get to go to Hawaii? And you're like, yeah, for work. Yeah.
Megan Blaskovich 1:21:51
I do. I do get pretty lucky once conferences started again, with the coastal stuff. They're often in Hawaii or Nice, nice locations. Everybody else is going to
Tyler Buckingham 1:22:02
have to make sure that they're in February. When it's pretty cool, baby.
Unknown Speaker 1:22:06
Megan Blaskovich 1:22:07
Oh, yeah. Yeah, I think last year was actually I was in Hawaii, right when COVID lockdown started for presenting on an update on this project. So
Peter Ravella 1:22:16
Not bad. Not bad. Megan, thank you. Thank you for sharing this project with our audience. Ladies and gentlemen, it is Megan blast. COVID. She is a geospatial maritime expert and a project manager for woolpert. coming to us today from the world headquarters in Dayton, Ohio. Really enjoyed learning about the Northern Mariana Islands, geospatial mapping project, topographic and bathymetric survey work that you're managing it sounds really cool. Megan, thank you so much for sharing it with us. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 1:22:48
thanks for having me. This
Unknown Speaker 1:22:49