If you see a small plane slowly flying back and forth at low altitude over Springfield, no need to call Homeland Security.
In late winter or early spring — before trees put out their new covering of leaves — the plane will be doing aerial surveys of the Springfield Conservation Nature Center in southeast Springfield and conservation department’s regional headquarters in northeast Springfield.
The aerial mapping is part of a $1.07 million contract approved by the Missouri Conservation Commission to create digital maps and high-resolution topographic land surveys using a LiDAR camera in the plane.
LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and uses a laser beam to map the surface of the earth in extreme detail.
“We have agreements for both LiDAR and high resolution photogrammetry for 34 of our conservation areas around the state,” said Jacob Careaga, Design and Development division chief with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
He said the photogrammetry part of it will yield an inventory of buildings and infrastructure on these areas that are tied to a digital coordinate on an electronic map.
The LiDAR survey will yield highly accurate topographic maps of conservation areas that will help conservation officials in future design work for buildings and field work for land projects.
Along with the nature center and conservation headquarters in Springfield, aerial surveys in the southwest part of the state will be conducted at the trout hatchery at Bennett Spring State Park and the Andy Dalton Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center near Bois D’Arc.
The trout hatchery at Montauk State Park and the conservation department’s tree nursery at Licking will also be surveyed from the air.
The conservation department’s first aerial surveying project in 2012 mapped Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery below Table Rock Lake dam and the trout hatchery at Roaring River State Park.
“Those first surveys turned out very well for us, so we’re expanding them to other areas,” Careaga said.
Wilson and Company Inc., Engineers and Architects in Kansas City was awarded the aerial mapping contract.