Author Archives: Don

Open Source Spatial Data Processing Suite

Gluing Things Together

As I described in a previous post, Boundless no longer maintains publicly accessible versions of Boundless Suite nor the suite formerly known as OpenGeo in their repositories. The Boundless Suite (now known as Boundless Server) is available on their GitHub page, but requires building from a cloned version of that GitHub repository. I’ve used Apache Ant and Git to build a few things in the past, usually with limited success. I looked through the steps involved there and quickly decided to try another approach. I figured – Why not try assembling all of the pieces included in Boundless Suite on my own? They are all open source projects after all. The main benefits of the Boundless/OpenGeo Suite are/were that the components have been tested and verified to work together, and then packaged together into a compact installation process. Why can’t I do some of that myself?

The Core Components

(PRNewsFoto/Boundless)

The pieces that could go into a full suite of spatial tools is nearly endless. The specifics will depend on the needs of the person using them. For some, using Python, R, PostGIS, and maybe Leaflet or another javascript library to post a map online is all they need. All of those are in my toolbox already, and will eventually make their way into my homemade suite. For me however, the three main elements of an Open Source Spatial Data Processing Suite are:

  • A database to store and retrieve geographic data
  • A desktop client to manage, process, and otherwise manipulate the data
  • A server to share the data publically and facilitate displaying it in a web map

Specifically:

In the past it was easy. I would start with a fresh Ubuntu server. I’d add the OpenGeo repository to my /etc/apt/sources.list, import the GPG key, update the cache, and then enter one line into a terminal window:

apt-get install suite-dashboard suite-geoserver suite-geowebcache suite-composer suite-docs suite-quickview suite-gs-gdal suite-gs-wps suite-wpsbuilder suite-gs-geopkg postgresql-9.3-postgis-2.1

Then I’d restart the tomcat server: service tomcat8 restart navigate to http://donmeltz.com:8080/dashboard/ and I’d get this:

Boom. Done.

Not so simple anymore. Let’s start with the easiest piece – The desktop.

The Desktop Side – QGIS

I still want to be able to use some of the plugins Boundless makes available for QGIS. These plugins are tested with the latest Long Term Release. The Boundless repositories do not include plugins for QGIS 3.x, so QGIS 2.18 it is. Navigate to https://qgis.org/en/site/forusers/download.html and download/install QGIS 2.18 onto your laptop or desktop computer.

Add the GeoServer Explorer Plugin:

This Plugin allows you to connect directly to a GeoServer through QGIS, manipulate some of the configuration settings of the server, add layers stored on the server to QGIS, and upload layers from QGIS to the server.

  • In QGIS, under the Plugins menu, open the “Manage and Install Plugins…” dialog.
  • Add the repository: http://qgis.boundlessgeo.com/plugins.xml
  • Scroll through the list of “Not installed” Plugins and install “GeoServer Explorer”. Make sure there’s a check mark next to it in the Plugins window.
  • Also while you’re at it, make sure the “DB Manager” is installed and checked “On” in the Plugins window.

To be clear, the Boundless Suite install does not include QGIS as the two are meant to be installed on different computers. However Boundless does provide a customized version of QGIS called Boundless Desktop that is preconfigured with the GeoServer Explorer plugin.

The Server Side – GeoServer and PostGIS

I start with a fresh install of Ubuntu. Even though the latest Ubuntu 18.04 release is a Long Term Support (LTS) version, it is still fairly new, and I’ve found the repositories are not yet populated with all of the software packages I like to use. So, I’m sticking with 16.04 LTS for now. All of the commands that follow are designed to work with 16.04, and appear to install everything correctly.

I have both a home server (which is what I used here) and a couple of servers running on Amazon Web Service (AWS). In any case, I need to be able to access the server through PuTTY, WinSCP, VNC (if there’s a display involved), or some other method in order to open a terminal window. I typically have the following ports open: 22, 80, 8080, and 5432.

GeoServer

Sticking with Long Term Support versions of software, I installed GeoServer 2.12.3. I tried the latest stable release (2.13.1), but found the Boundless GeoExplorer Plugin would not connect to that version.

GeoServer requires a Java Runtime Environment and a Tomcat Application Server to run. As the website docs explain, “The Oracle JRE is preferred, but OpenJDK has been known to work adequately.” Wanting to keep this as simple as possible, I stuck with OpenJDK.

  • Install the OpenJDK java 8 runtime environment, in a terminal window:

sudo apt-get install openjdk-8-jre

  • Install Tomcat 8. GeoServer requires Tomcat 7.0.65 or later that implements Servlet 3. Using the Ubuntu 16.04 repositories will install Tomcat 8.0.

sudo apt-get install tomcat8

  • Install GeoServer. Change the current directory to your Download directory and download the GeoServer file

cd ~/Downloads

wget http://sourceforge.net/projects/geoserver/files/GeoServer/2.12.3/geoserver-2.12.3-war.zip

  • Unzip the downloaded file and move it into the Tomcat webapps directory

sudo apt-get install unzip

unzip geoserver-2.13.1-war.zip

sudo mv ~/Downloads/geoserver.war /var/lib/tomcat8/webapps/

  • In order to allow the QGIS GeoServer Explorer plugin to publish layers directly to GeoServer, the GeoServer “Importer” extension has to be installed. Download the Importer extension zip file:

wget https://sourceforge.net/projects/geoserver/files/GeoServer/2.12.3/extensions/geoserver-2.12.3-importer-plugin.zip

  • And since this zip file contains multiple files we’ll unzip it directly into the proper directory:

sudo unzip geoserver-2.12.3-importer-plugin.zip -d /var/lib/tomcat8/webapps/geoserver/WEB-INF/lib/

  • Restart Tomcat

sudo service tomcat8 restart

  • Note for future reference – starting, stopping, restarting Tomcat:

sudo service tomcat8 start

sudo service tomcat8 stop

sudo service tomcat8 restart

You should now be able to access GeoServer by going to:
http://<your server ip>:8080/geoserver

PostgreSQL/PostGIS

We’ve got a desktop client. We’ve got a remote server. Now we need a place to store some data that’s accessible to both. So… Install PostgreSQL and PostGIS (again in a terminal window):

  • Add the appropriate repository to sources.list (in this case, for “xenial”, which means Ubuntu 16.04):

sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://apt.postgresql.org/pub/repos/apt/ xenial-pgdg main"

  • Add keys:

wget --quiet -O - https://www.postgresql.org/media/keys/ACCC4CF8.asc | sudo apt-key add -

sudo apt-get update

  • Install the software packages:

sudo apt-get install postgresql-10

sudo apt-get install postgresql-10-postgis-2.4

sudo apt-get install postgresql-10-pgrouting

  • To get the command line tools shp2pgsql, raster2pgsql:

sudo apt install postgis

  • Connect to the postgres database using the command line tool psql as local user (The default PostgreSQL username is postgres)

sudo -u postgres psql postgres

  • Set the password for the postgres user. (Normally there is no password set for a PostgreSQL database. But since we want to be able to access the database remotely through QGIS, we’ll have to open it up to the world. So, password protection it is.)

\password postgres

  • Enable advanced administration for pgAdmin

CREATE EXTENSION adminpack;

  • Enable the PostGIS extension

CREATE EXTENSION postgis;

  • Enable the pgRouting extension

CREATE EXTENSION pgrouting;

  • Verify the version of PostGIS and PostgreSQL

SELECT postgis_full_version();

  • Exit psql

\q

  • Here’s where we allow remote connections to the database by editing a couple of files (using vi)

sudo vi /etc/postgresql/10/main/postgresql.conf

Hit the “Insert” key to enter editing mode

Change the line that says: #listen_addresses = ‘localhost’

to: listen_addresses = ‘*’ (remove the initial hashtag to uncomment the line and change local host to an asterisk which means ‘listen to everything’)

Hit the “ESC” key to exit editing mode

Hit “Shift :wq” and then enter to save the edits

sudo vi /etc/postgresql/10/main/pg_hba.conf

Again, using vi, add the following line to the end of the list of allowed host connections:

host    all             all             all               md5

Save and exit vi.

  • Restart PostgreSQL

sudo service postgresql restart

Results

What does all this get me?

I can now open QGIS, go to the “Web” menu and open GeoExplorer. Connect to my GeoServer using my username/password, and view all the layers stored in the various workspaces, adding them to my QGIS project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can use pgAdmin on my desktop computer to connect to and administer my remote PostGIS database.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can use QGIS to directly access my PostGIS database, uploading layers from QGIS to it, or adding layers to QGIS from it.

  • Layer > Add Layer > Add PostGIS Layers…
  • New Connection
  • Enter the Host ip address, database name, username, and password.
  • Connect
  • Choose a layer in the database and then “Add”

Or if the database contains no layers, I can add them to the database using the database manager:

  • Database > DB Manager > DB Manager
  • Choose the previously connected PostGIS database
  • Use the Import Layer/File button to add a layer from QGIS to the database
  • Use the Export to File button to save a database layer to a wide variety of formats.

EDIT:

When I first posted this, there was one piece of functionality I hadn’t got working yet. I should be able to publish a layer directly from QGIS to GeoServer using the GeoServer Explorer plugin. When I tried to do so, I got an error message:

What I found out was – the GeoServer Importer Extension has to be installed on GeoServer in order for the QGIS GeoServer Explorer plugin to be able to publish layers directly to GeoServer. I’ve updated the steps needed to do this in the process outlined above.

To upload and publish from QGIS:

  • Open the GeoExplorer plugin
  • Connect to your GeoServer
  • Choose the “Publish layers to this catalog” button
  • Select the layers you want to publish from the list, and the workspace to publish to
  • Hit “OK” and you should then be able to see your QGIS layer in your GeoServer

Hope this helps. I’m open to advice if you have any suggestions for improvement.

 

 

 

 

 

Impetus to Blog

Yesterday I posted a blurb that was mostly a list of reasons why I haven’t been blogging.
Today’s blurb is a list of the things that have spurred me on to start again.

What are the new motivating forces that have me wanting to write things down in public?
There are three:

  1. My change in employment
  2. The removal of freely downloadable compiled versions of Boundless software
  3. My Home Server needs some attention

Change in Employment

I touched on this yesterday. I have accepted a position as Senior Planner at the Columbia County Planning Department. This does not mean “Don Meltz Planning and GIS” will cease to exist. It does mean I will wind things down a bit, and will be more selective in the jobs I take on. I won’t be able to work on projects within Columbia County. And those I work on outside Columbia County will have to fit into a weekends-and-evenings schedule. I’ll also continue teaching at Marist College.

What it does mean is – I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head now. The state of the entire county’s GIS is this: The Real Property Department uses AutoCAD Map for all their mapping work, spitting out shapefiles when needed. The Planning Department has one single-use license for  ArcGIS Standard. That’s it. It is the proverbial “Blank Slate”. It is both an exciting and daunting position to be in. I’ll need to develop an action plan in order to get organized and stay focused. Writing things down via blog posts will help.

Compiled versions of Boundless Suite no longer available

As I began thinking about what such an action plan might look like, I wandered over to the Boundless website to see what was new. What I found there was a little disappointing, but not totally unexpected. Apparently, Boundless will no longer be posting compiled versions of Boundless Suite nor the former OpenGeo Suite. And, the Ubuntu repositories for these packages are no longer available. What this means is, I’ll either have to build a Boundless Server from the GitHub repo, or assemble all the pieces that make up the “suite formerly known as OpenGeo” from the various community orgs (i.e Geoserver, Geoserver extensions, PostGIS, QGIS, QGIS Plugins, etc.). Knowing my own capabilities, I believe assembling the various parts will be easier for me to accomplish than building from the GitHub repo. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time, anyway. Writing things down via blog posts will help me keep track of any pitfalls I run into.

Home Server Attention

About once a year I physically and virtually open up my home server to clean out the dust bunnies, and to organize and delete any files that are cluttering up the hard drives. This server is  mostly a place to store nightly backups of our other household computers. But I also use it as a test bed for things that need to connect to or through the internet. Upon last inspection, the now six-year-old fans started to rattle a bit, and I noticed it’s still using Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and OpenGeo Suite 4.1.1. Time for an upgrade on both accounts. This provides an ideal opportunity to take apart my server (both physically and digitally), and make an initial attempt at stitching together all those pieces of the suite formerly known as OpenGeo.

Plenty to write about

All of this will give me plenty of material to digest and write about. However, be warned. A lot of my future writing is going to be about basic GIS implementation. This may disappoint some of my more avant-garde twitter followers. The fact that I am not doing everything by tying together a remote PostGIS database and a bunch of R functions using nothing but Python scripts and posting the results to a Bootstrapped Leaflet webpage via GeoJSon is going to annoy you.

So be it.

Back After a Long Hiatus

It’s been a long time.

My last blog post was on May 9, 2013. That’s 5 years and 8 days ago. Why the long pause, and what’s happened during those intervening years? I had to look through my records to figure it out myself. Here’s what I found:

Mom

Back in 2013, my Mom was dealing with some difficult health issues and skin problems because she didn’t take her amazon vitamin c serum. I was spending more time bringing her to doctor’s appointments. She was in and out of the hospital having various procedures done, and following up with visits to her primary care physician and cardiologist. She passed away in May 2014. At about the same time, I had taken on a few large projects with another planner, including working on three County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plans all at the same time. (Note to self – Never, ever do that again).

I had no spare time.

 

Dad

Shortly after this period, in 2014, my Dad’s partner’s declining health, left him with no one to help him with his antique/classic auto hobby. Dad lives for the annual Hershey AAC swap meet, and other car and truck shows throughout the year. So, I stepped in to fill that void. I got back into the hobby myself, setting up my own automobilia business. I continue helping Dad out loading and unloading heavy boxes of car and truck parts, and driving the long distances to various car shows today.

I had no spare time.

 

Donnelly Hall, Marist College

Donnelly Hall, Marist College

In 2015 I was approached by the chair of the Environmental Science & Policy department at Marist College and began teaching my first class in the fall of 2016. For anyone who has not taught either High School or College classes before, I can tell you – it is an incredibly time consuming task to develop an entire semester’s curriculum from scratch. I had two courses to work on – an Intro to GIS course and and Advanced GIS course.

I had no spare time.

In 2016 there began a change in the makeup of our County Planning Department which continues today. I’ve been working as a self-employed planning consultant for 15 years and saw an opportunity for a change myself. I enjoy my work as an independent planner, but working at the same place for 15+ years wears on you, even if it is your own business. I needed something different. I needed a new challenge. Without going into the lengthy details, I have accepted a position in the Columbia County Planning Department. I do not have a start date yet, but assume it will be sometime within the next two months. I’ll talk about this more in future blog posts once I begin working there.

I still have no spare time, but I do have a new reason for blogging.

I’ll be doing something that’s new to me. I’ll need to organize my thoughts. The best way for me to do that is to write stuff down. It’s how I’ve always worked. Whenever I need to work through a complex problem I take out a pencil and a pad of paper and just start writing things down. That’s why I started blogging in the first place. It wasn’t to show off my skills as a planner or spatial analyst. It was to organize my thoughts.

And so, with many new thoughts to organize, I believe I will begin blogging again.

Talk to you soon.

– Don

NY Upstate APA Bestows Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice

The New York Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association recently awarded their 2014 Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC’s) new online Environmental Assessment Form tools: the EAF Workbooks and the EAF Mapper application.

EAF Mapper Award

These tools were developed by DEC, environmental planning consultants Nan Stolzenburg (Community Planning & Environmental Associates), Don Meltz (Don Meltz Planning and GIS),  and the geographic information system development firm Fountains Spatial.

The annual Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice is given to a planning tool, practice, program, project, or process that is a significant advancement to specific elements of planning. Emphasis is placed on results, and how the best practice helps to promote efforts that foster greater participation in planning.

DEC prepared the EAF Workbooks to assist applicants, project sponsors, and reviewing agencies in completing the recently updated environmental assessment forms (EAFs). The workbooks provide background information for each question on the EAF, offer guidance on how to analyze issues, and provide additional resources that can be consulted if the project sponsor or the reviewing agency is seeking additional information on a specific topic. The workbooks make generous use of examples to illustrate typical situations that project sponsors and agencies encounter when conducting an environmental assessment.

eaf-scope

The EAF Mapper is an Internet-based GIS tool that makes it easier for a project sponsor to prepare the EAF forms. To answer questions about a project site, the sponsor can either use the mapping software to identify the location by its tax map parcel number, or use a drawing tool built into the system to obtain the necessary site information.

eaf-mapper

Together, these new tools make it easier and quicker for applicants and reviewers to complete the forms that must be submitted as part of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process.

Additional information about the new SEQR forms, the companion EAF workbooks, and the EAF Mapper can be found on DEC’s website.

Willamette River Historical Stream Channels Poster

Willamette Stream Channels Poster

Willamette Stream Channels Poster

Today’s MOTD is something that was going around the Twitter-sphere a few weeks ago. I put a link to it on my desktop, and re-found it tonight while organizing my files. Even though it’s not brand new, it is special enough to be noted here.

It is a spectacular piece of cartographic artwork. It’s so unique it almost doesn’t look like a map, but that is exactly what is is.

As the publication website says, this is a lidar derived digital elevation model of the Willamette River. Lidar (light-radar) is a technology that uses light to measure distances, and can be used to produce 3D images of the earths surface (i.e. a digital elevation model)

Basically, this is a topographic map. The brightest white areas are the lowest elevations, which are the existing stream channels. Older, historic stream channels show up as depressions in the landscape, shown in various shades of light-blue.

For more information about how this map was made, and to purchase a 17″ x 38″ poster, visit the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Resources website.

Delhi Kiosk Map

One of the projects I’m working on involves an economic redevelopment plan for a five town – two village area in the Central Catskills. One of our recommendations to them involoves developing a unified way-finding and mapping system that will help visitors find their way around and through the area. While doing some research on the subject, one of our team members found this cool map recently displayed in the Town of Delhi, NY. Delhi (pronounced “Dell-high”) is also a Catskill Mountain region town, but outside our study area.

DelhiKioskMap

Instead of going into detail about how the map was made, I’ll just point you to the bovinabrownbats website and their post titled: A new map for Delhi!

I will tell you, it was not done in ArcGIS, nor was it done using any opensource GIS tools. However, I do think someone proficient in Photoshop might be able to come up with a 2-dimensional version, if they tried really hard.

Grateful Dead Archive Online – Map

This is how my day went today:

  1.  A friend on Facebook (John Baumbach) posted a link to a page listing the 20 Essential Grateful Dead Shows. He mentioned how he had been to two of them.
  2. This got me thinking about one of my most memorable concerts. I did some searching, and found an archive page with a recording of the Bob Weir concert during my freshman year at Franklin Pierce College on March 4, 1978.
  3. Surprised to find this online, I thought: “Maybe there’s an archive of old Grateful Dead concerts, too”.
  4. A little more searching led me to the Grateful Dead Archive Online website.
  5. …where I then found this cool map, showing many or most of the venues and concerts the Dead played from 1965 to 1995. (I don’t think it’s possible to map them all, is it? I could be wrong.)
  6. I wound up listening to old Grateful Dead tunes the rest of the day.

Now I’ve never been much of a Dead Head. One of the reasons is, the college I attended during my undergrad years had a student body that was probably 75% Dead Head. I’ve got nothing against the Dead. I’ve actually grown to like their music more in recent years. The problem at that time was, most of the students at FPC were Dead fans because they liked the idea of being a Dead Head more than they really liked their music. Somehow, that just turned me off to the whole Grateful Dead scene.

I was talked into going to one Dead concert during my time at FPC, mainly because my friends needed a ride, I had a car with gas, and they offered to pay for my ticket. To the best of my recollection, this is the only Grateful Dead concert I ever attended.

I like this map for a few reasons.

  • It’s simple
  • It looks like it’s all done with JavaScript, jQuery, Google API. Again, simple
  • I like how the pop-ups work, leading to off-map webpages with more information (something I want to incorporate into another project I’m working on)
  • The content is mostly crowd-sourced. There are tons of fan-submitted recordings of the concerts, posters, pictures, and other paraphernalia.
  • Thanks to Michael Terner (@MT_AppGeo) for pointing me to this 2010 article in the Atlantic, describing how The Dead were early innovators in social networking and open-sourcing their music as a way to promote themselves.

Map of Grateful Dead Shows:

(Courtesy, Special Collections, University Library, University of California Santa Cruz. Grateful Dead Archive Online Collection.)

From the GDAO Help page: GDAO is built upon open-source software including the Omeka web-publishing platform, the SOLR search server, the Djatoka Java based image server, and the Seadragon image viewer.

SEQR Environmental Assessment Forms Workshop

New SEQR Environmental Assessment Forms

SEAF workbookLast year, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) adopted revised model environmental assessment forms (EAFs). This was the first major update to the Full EAF (FEAF) since 1978 and to the Short EAF (SEAF) since its last revision in 1987. During development of the new EAF’s, some concerns were raised about the level of detail needed to complete the new forms. As a result, DEC contracted with Nan Stolzenburg and Don Meltz to develop a set of online workbooks to provide additional guidance for completing them.

The effective date for the revised EAFs is April 1, 2013, after which all reviews under SEQR will require the use of these new EAFs. In response, Columbia Land Conservancy has announced another event in their Land Use Education Series:

SEQR: Using The New SEAF (Short Environmental Assessment Form)

For local government officials involved with State Environmental Quality Reviews (SEQR) through your municipal board positions, Nan Stolzenburg and Don Meltz will be offering a workshop in March on using the new SEQR forms. Don will include an overview of GIS resources available to help complete the forms.

Two dates have been set:

Tuesday, March 5th 5:30pm – 8:30pm, and
Saturday, March 30th 9:30am – 12:30pm

Location:

Columbia-Greene Community College – 4400 Route 23, Hudson
Professional Academic Center/Room 614

Free, but preregistration required:

You can register now on the CLC website.

Self-certification forms will be provided for 3.0 credit hours of land-use training for municipal boards. Credit will be awarded at the discretion of each municipality.

For more information, contact Ellen Jouret-Epstein at 518.392.5252, ext. 208 or ellen@clctrust.org.

New Website Launched at donmeltz.com

A major facelift to the old website

If you’ve been here before you’ll notice a whole new look to my website and a few new things have been added. The site has been completely redone from the ground up. Here’s a brief overview of what’s changed:

Integration

Home Page graphicThe primary goal for doing the redesign was to integrate my various online services as much as possible. Previously I had both a website and a blog, but they were hosted in different places and the design was different for each. The same was true for my map site. I also had a file sharing service that was not connected to any of my other services. All of these were functional, but they did not provide a very cohesive experience for my clients and visitors.

So, What’s new, and what’s changed?

News and Blog

Other than the look and feel of the website, the biggest change was the merging of my website and blog into the same space. I’ve added a News category to the blog that will be strictly for announcements of new clients, projects, and other business related content. The Blog entries will continue to be about whatever happens to be on my mind at any given moment, or what I happen to be working on at the time.

maps.donmeltz.com

maps-donmeltzMy online map prototype now has its own spot on the website. This page is what I used to call my GeoSandbox. It has now evolved into a working online slippy-map that I’ve used for a few of my clients. It’s an efficient way to share data and analysis results. It is particularly useful for larger regional projects where paper and PDF maps simply cannot provide the level of detail needed at a scale that will fit on a single printed page. It’s also a great way to publish maps that change frequently. It is surprising how much paper gets used on a single project with multiple map drafts.

Client Area and Gopher

I’m also experimenting with a couple of file sharing options for my clients. Previously, I had been using the DropBox service to post and share files, and it has worked very well. However, there are a few minor limitations I’ve run into. So, I’ve added a spot where my clients can have their own password protected access (Client Area) or open access (Gopher) to the various files that pertain to their projects. This should make it easier for clients to find the documents and maps I’ve produced for them without having to ask me to send them another link or email attachment.

 Mobile Ready

All of the pages here use a responsive design, which means it should provide a nice user experience for those using smart phones and tablets to access the website as well as a traditional computer monitor. If you want to test this, try adjusting the browser window to a very narrow size to simulate a phone screen, and see how it reacts. That’s basically what responsive design means.

For the techno-geeks…

The entire website is written using HTML5 and PHP, with a little javascript thrown in where necessary. I’m using WordPress as my content management system (CMS), and self hosting on an Amazon Web Services medium instance Ubuntu 12.04 server. The same server hosts my OpenGeo Suite map publishing stack. Yes, I know all you bleeding edge types have moved on to hosting your blogs on GitHub using Octopress and Jekyll. But the fact is, WordPress does everything I want it to do and more, with plenty of room to grow. So, here I am.

The WordPress theme I’m using is a modified version of Twenty-twelve. I looked at dozens of other themes, but kept coming back to this one. I finally realized that if I were to build a theme from scratch, Twenty-twelve is probably what I’d want it to wind up being.

So there you have it. Feel free to browse around, and let me know what you think. I’m always open to new ideas and constructive criticism.

– Don

Columbia County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

The Columbia County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan is out for public review

I worked on the mapping and spatial analysis aspects of this plan. I helped the board identify all of the active farmland in the county, and lead them through a LESA process, producing a prioritized list of farms and farmland to protect. The press release follows:

To help guide the sustainability of agriculture on a county-wide basis, the Columbia County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board (AFPB) has developed a county-wide plan focused on agricultural economic development and farmland protection. The culmination of this two year project is the release of a draft Protection Plan for the county.  The complete document, with appendices, can be located on the web at: https://sites.google.com/a/columbiacountyny.com/columbia-county-agriculture-and-farmland-board/plan. Hard copies of the plan are available at County Office Building, 401 State St, Hudson, the Cornell Cooperative Extension Office located at 479 Rte. 66, Hudson, NY and at the Farm Credit office, 190 New York 9H, Claverack.

Public input at the beginning of the project was solicited to learn what the current and emerging issues facing agriculture are in Columbia County.  The AFPB has set up a series of listening sessions in January and February of 2013 to solicit input from county residents regarding the draft document.  Residents have the opportunity to participate in one of the following meetings:

  • January 22 – 6:00 – 7:00 P.M., Board of Supervisors Chamber, Columbia County Office, 401 State St., Hudson, NY
  • February 2 –  10:00 A.M. – Noon, Stuyvesant Town Hall, Stuyvesant, NY
  • February 9 –  10:00 A.M. – Noon, Ancram Town Hall, Ancram, NY

If you cannot make any of the scheduled meetings, your comments are still welcomed.  Please contact Mary Ann Johnson at Hudson Valley Agricultural Development Corporation at 518-432-5360 or at majohnson@hvadc.org.