Locating Huckleberry Patches from Space

Knowing the location of a good huckleberry patch is the most valuable information an avid picker can have.

But now, with current satellite technology, huckleberry patches can be located from space!

According to the Blue Mountain Eagle article, U.S. Geological Survey research ecologist Tabitha Graves and biologist Nate Michael mapped out huckleberry patches in Glacier National Park.

Huckleberry bushes turn bright red in autumn, making it possible to Locating Huckleberry Patches from Spacepick them out in a landscape. Graves and Michael developed ways of identifying the particular berry patches and winnowing out other red-colored fall shrubbery….

Combining the details from the two systems allowed the researchers to map huckleberries with about 80 percent accuracy.

For proof, the researchers then hiked to the identified spots to ground-truth the results. In the process, they found most huckleberry plants were more than 300 feet away from hiking trails.

The article goes on to explain that although Glacier National Park is just a test site,  this technology and its methods could be used around the world to monitor important trees and scrubs.

… That might help bear managers reduce the odds of people running into bears in the park by selectively closing productive patches that would attract grizzlies….

The image archives also work like a time machine. Incidents like forest fires or bark-beetle outbreaks can be reviewed before and after to see how huckleberries adapt to the change.

“There aren’t that many species that can be identified from space, because most don’t turn that bright shade of red,” Michael said. “We got lucky hucks do that.”

But don’t despair, this is just in a test stage in the park only.  Tabitha and Nate joked they could be endangering themselves by revealing some picker’s huckleberry hot spots!

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