Tahoe Projects

AboveGeo projects in the Lake Tahoe area.

The following overview of projects we’ve been working on in Tahoe.  These range from commercial videos to vegetative analysis and water quality work.  In this post we’ll look at a few of them and show some interactive examples.

Promotional Projects

Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Its numerous recreational activities provide excellent opportunities to employ our services – such as creating outstanding drone based imaging. In this project, Diamond Peak Ski Resort in Incline Village, NV, hired us to create several promotional videos highlighting their resort’s stunning views.


Beach Condition & Water Clarity at Lake Tahoe

Last fall AboveGeo did several projects for Incline Village General Improvement District (IVGID).  One of these was a high resolution map for Incline and Ski Beach at Lake Tahoe.  They were interested in what the tree line looked like from off shore.  While we were taking those pictures, we created an orthomap of the beach itself.  Although we were not trying to see much under the water, you can zoom in on it and see just about everything under water.

Zoom in to see the level of detail!


Lake Tahoe Shoreline Bathymetry & Water Clarity

Why is Tahoe losing clarity?  Recent water quality research has shed more light on the causes of the decline in lake clarity.  Lake Tahoe is experiencing a phenomenon known as cultural eutrophication—excessive algal growth due to excessive nutrient levels. Nitrogen and phosphorus from automobile emissions and urban and forested areas act like fertilizer to accelerate algal growth.  Satellite Imagery has been used to look under water for years.  The WorldView3 satellite is equipped with multispectral camera arrays with frequency distributions capable of looking deeply into the water to determine underwater topography which is called “bathymetry”.  AboveGeo’s new camera array mimics WorldView 3  frequencies enabling us to see near shore water clarity, extended shore structure, and vegetative composition.


Invasive Species at Tahoe Keys

This small area is the mouth of the Tahoe Keys.  The Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association (TKPOA) recently announced it is seeking a permit to test herbicides in 2018 as a way to combat aquatic invasive plants — an ongoing (and longtime) issue in the 172-acre lagoon system.  Aquatic invasive plants, primarily curly leaf pondweed and Eurasian watermilfoil, have taken over more than 90 percent of the Tahoe Keys and present an immediate threat to Lake Tahoe.  Using Multispectral technology we can see the plants growth over the summer and thus measure the effectiveness of the herbicide.


Here is the same area using Normalized Differential Vegetative Index which was derived from a Red Edge Multi-spectral camera.  As you can see, the plant-life is green and the areas with no plant-life is red.


Recreational Ecology & Analysis

IVGID is responsible for two golf courses as well.  These courses are located near Lake Tahoe so their fertilizer levels in run-off present an environmentally sensitive challenge.  Fertilizer in the lake can increase algae content resulting in lower water clarity.  It’s very important to keep fertilizer levels low, while getting the most out of the green’s production.  AboveGeo created several orthometric maps for various holes on the Championship Course.



Analysis of the elevation map can help identify surface water run-off areas.


Using multispectral cameras and Normalized Differential Vegetative Indexing we can see where the green is stressed and may need more or less fertilizer.  Note that we can also see where the repeated lawnmower pattern is starting to effect the green itself.

Vegetative Mapping & Assessment

An excellent example of Vegitative Mapping for the purposes of regional planning can be found in The Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.  They are producing a fine-scale map of Sonoma County’s vegetation and habitats using largely satellite provided imagery. This multi-year program will serve to increase knowledge and awareness of the County’s rich ecological diversity. Once complete, the map, underlying GIS data, and ecological information will be made publicly available and will benefit the District, County departments, associated agencies, businesses and professionals in a number of critical areas. Vegetation cover is the key baseline for nearly all analyses the District undertakes, including: setting quantifiable conservation targets for land acquisition, identifying the most critical natural areas for wildlife habitat and the highest quality agricultural lands for local food production, developing sound management plans for District-owned lands, ensuring regulatory compliance, analyzing climate change mitigation and adaptation opportunities, and calculating the economic return on investment associated with conservation. The District invites public and private entities in Sonoma County to participate and reap the resource planning and management benefits of the map.  They are using a variety of vegetative mapping methods to assess a variety of applications.

  • An accurate vegetation map is a critical precursor to carbon sequestration estimates and carbon budgets.
  • Vegetation maps characterize the landscape, providing a vital tool for identifying and prioritizing conservation options.
  • Vegetation maps are necessary for tracking the effects of climate change on vegetation, habitat and ecosystem function.
  • Vegetation maps provide a baseline inventory that will serve as a primary tool for measuring the impacts of climate change.
  • Regional planners use vegetation map data to help plan for and adapt to the effects of climate change. Fine scale vegetation map data provides habitat and ecosystem information that is used for endangered species management.
  • Vegetation map data is a fundamental variable for estimating fire hazard and fire behavior across the landscape.
  • Vegetation map data is the primary component for fuel load estimates. Accurate vegetation map data greatly improves flow calculations from stormwater models.
  • Accurate vegetation maps help increase flood forecasting effectiveness and help plan for floods. Land managers rely on vegetation maps to help support infrastructure planning, wildlife management, and fire and fuels management.
  • Vegetation maps provide spatially explicit habitat and natural community information that is critical to good regional planning. Firefighters and other public safety officials use vegetation map data to plan strategic approaches to fire fighting and fuels reduction.
  • Vegetation maps provide key information for utility right of way management and new public works infrastructure planning.
  • Vegetation maps provide a valuable tool for watershed planners working to improve water quality, water supply, and fish habitat