The Historic Land Use Initiative (HILI): Mapping and investigating the extent and legacy of 300+ years of land use changes in the northeast US following European settlement

Authors: William Ouimet*, University of Connecticut, Katharine M. Johnson, Earth Resources Technology Inc., NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Asheville, NC 28803
Topics: Geomorphology, Anthropocene, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: human-land use dynamics, airborne LiDAR, Anthropocene, historic land use, northeast USA
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Historic Land Use Initiative (HILI) is a platform of mapping and scientific investigation into the extent and legacy of 300+ years of land use changes in the northeast US following European settlement. Ongoing work motivated by LiDAR analysis addresses the patterns, magnitudes, physical, and geologic controls of historic land modification, as well as the legacies and impacts of past land use on physical processes, including gully erosion and sediment mobilization. From the historical archaeology perspective, this research allows for the development and distribution of archaeologically sensitive datasets for preservation and future analysis. From mapping and documenting alone, new contributions can be made to geographic and anthropological theory that address specific questions regarding how individuals divide the landscape, how they shape land use history and the environment in a region, and how the physical landscape (geology, topography, slope, etc.) influences the magnitude, style and patterns of land-use. From a geomorphological perspective, this research provides a unique opportunity to quantify humans’ role as geomorphic agents and the drastic changes wrought upon a de-glaciated landscape, and study the direct erosional consequences (gullies) and mobilization of sediment into main waterways. Research emphasis on hillslope modification (i.e., quantifying human imprint, material moved, and erosional gullies) provides a novel complement to the geomorphology community focused on legacy sediment in fluvial networks, river restoration, and the upland sources of flood sediment loads in landscapes with significant historical human impacts.

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