FORT LARAMIE – Last week, man and machine joined forces in an attempt to control an unprecedented, yet recurring natural disaster in rural Goshen County.
In 2015 and 2016, Fort Laramie National Historic Site (FLNHS) experienced the effects of a 100-year flood – an event that has a 1-percent (or 1 in 100) chance of occurring during any given year.
Severe erosion along the Laramie River, closed and washed out park trails and roads, and potential damage to irreplaceable historic buildings prompted Superintendent Tom Baker to reach out for help.
“The park has experienced two 100-year flood events … and the superintendent called to say ‘Is this the new normal? I think what I need is some sort of river management plan,’” Don Weeks, physical resources program manager for the Intermountain Region of the National Park Service, said.
Nell Conti, also of the Intermountain Region (Geographic Resources Division), said part of the recommendation to begin flood management planning included collecting high-resolution, photogrammetric surveys, in addition to light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data – which uses eye-safe laser pulses to measure depth and provide an accurate, three-dimensional map of the area surveyed. For this, the team turned to Mark Bauer and Todd Burton of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office.