Keep NAIP free

SilviaTerra’s CruiseBoost technology uses a wide range of remotely sensed imagery in the “stack” of data we use to generate forest inventory estimates. We like to joke we’re ‘data greedy’, but really, we’re data-loving. Our company has been successful in large part because of the US government has made a lot of extremely valuable datasets available freely to the public - including Landsat imagery covering the entire planet, standardized digital elevation models for United States, and regularly updated aerial imagery through the National Agricultural Imagery Program.

Our colleagues at Mapbox recently wrote a great article about their use of the NAIP imagery, in the context of a proposed change by the USDA Farm Service Agency to privatize this program. We’d like to join them in speaking out in favor of maintaining NAIP products as free, publicly available data.

As a small company, we’re able to rapidly explore new approaches and develop new systems to solve important problems for natural resource managers. Our technology helps improve wise use of natural resources in the United States and beyond, and we do this by leveraging NAIP in addition to other data. NAIP imagery is regularly updated and is a consistent component of our imagery stack. Where NAIP is not available, we have to instead purchase comparable imagery - this drives up our costs, and drives up the costs for our clients. On a large scale, it can be prohibitively expensive to work without NAIP data.

One way in which we process NAIP imagery helps us pull out unforested acres scattered within forested tracts - especially important for large properties and inaccessible areas.

We are in strong support of keeping NAIP open and free, as it has been. We recognize the USDA is still considering options for this program - and would like to suggest that it stay just as it is. NAIP works well, and enables SilviaTerra to work closely with government agencies and private landowners to improve their knowledge and management of their forest resources.