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Mapping Alaska a Priority for State and Feds

June 28, 2012, Washington, D.C. – Federal and state agencies sat down today to make a new map of Alaska, one that meets the mapping standards that have been provided to 49 other states for years.

Federal agency executives joined to discuss collaborative funding strategies for Alaska’s Statewide Digital Mapping Initiative (SDMI) today during a roundtable convened by Alaska Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell and U.S. Department of Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, Anne Castle.

“Mars and the moon have been better mapped than Alaska,” Treadwell said.

“Because of Alaska’s strategic importance, I believe it is not only in Alaska’s interest, but the national interest, that our maps be updated to meet requirements ranging from resource development to emergency management. SDMI is a mutual priority for everyone in this room.”

Treadwell also highlighted that the State of Alaska has contributed $3.7 million to SDMI in its FY2013 capital budget.  The state also contributed $3.5 million in 2010 as part of a cost-sharing agreement between the State of Alaska and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.  That collaboration resulted in a digital elevation model that covered ten percent of the state.

Treadwell, Alaska’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Marc Luiken, and Alaska Department of Natural Resources Deputy Commissioner Ed Fogels made the case for Alaska mapping upgrades before federal agencies whose missions also require accurate digital elevation data. Fogels is chair of the SDMI. Agencies were asked to build upon previous mapping efforts by contributing funds toward the effort.

“We appreciate USGS effort to lead at the federal level and to see the completion of SDMI through,” Luiken said.

Alaska remains the only state in the U.S. that has not been digitally mapped on a statewide basis and its maps do not meet National Map Accuracy Standards.

Federal agencies participating in the roundtable included the Department of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, Defense Installation Spatial Data Infrastructure, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communication Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Highway Administration, National Science Foundation, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of Management and Budget, Department of Agriculture, U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Representatives of all three members of Alaska’s congressional delegation also attended the meeting.

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