Spatiotemporal Analysis of Land Cover Change on Bamberger Ranch Preserve in Johnson City, Texas
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The landscape of the Texas Hill Country appears much different today than it did prior to European settlement. What was once savanna grasslands has been partially overtaken by the expansion of woody plants such as Ashe juniper, an evergreen species Texan's often refer to as cedar. Prior to settlement, the grasslands of the Hill Country were maintained by natural fires along with periodic, intensive grazing by herds of bison. With settlement came the extermination of such herds, coupled with suppression of wild fires. Fencing off lands prevented free ranging, which led to overgrazing and subsequent soil degradation. With no control method, cedar breaks have expanded throughout the Hill Country. Perceived high rates of evapotranspiration (ET) and low rates of infiltration amongst cedar when compared with those of native grasses, has prompted interest towards shrub control as a means to enhance water supply. The 2,226 hectare Bamberger Ranch Preserve, located outside of Johnson City, Texas, has undergone extensive habitat restoration over the last 48 years. Through change detection measures examined via remotely sensed data, this project aims to quantify land cover change at Bamberger Ranch related to those restoration efforts. Analysis of classified Landsat imagery between 1973 and 2010 indicates a 9% reduction in trees across the study area and provides quantitative evidence of long-term restoration efforts.