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2003 proceedings 12 x

Technology for Resource Management
Synthesis as a Law Enforcement Tool
at Shenandoah National Park:
A Synthesis Regional Support Center Case Study
Andrew Diego, 22572 Middleburg Chapel Court, Ashburn, Virginia 20148-6704;
Andrew Welti, 906 Marshall Drive Northeast, Leesburg, Virginia 20176; weltiar@jmu.edu
Éadaoin O’Drudy, 1449H Devon Lane, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22801; odrudyee@jmu.edu
Ken Johnson, National Park Service, 3655 U.S. Highway 211 East, Luray, Virginia 22835;
Carollyn Oglesby, James Madison University, Integrated Science and Technology, MSC 4102,
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807; oglesbcs@jmu.edu Bruce Nash, National Park Service, Natural Resources Information Division, 12795 West
Alameda Parkway, Lakewood, Colorado 80228; bruce_nash@nps.gov Steven Frysinger, James Madison University, Integrated Science and Technology, MSC 4102,
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807; frysinsp@jmu.edu Synthesis is an information management tool for efficiently organizing, integrating, and dis- seminating data and information. Synthesis presents users with an easy-to-use graphical userinterface that functions as a gateway to information that may be stored on local computers, net-works, intranets, as well as the internet. From this single gateway, a user may view and integratemany types of information, including text-based documents, photographic libraries, databases,spreadsheets, presentation graphics, GIS (geographic information systems), bibliographies,internet-based information, and decision-support systems. The Synthesis Regional SupportCenter (SRSC) at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Virginia, was establishedin late 2001 to support national parks in their use of Synthesis for information management. TheSRSC’s first customer, Shenandoah National Park, provided documents and guidance for thedevelopment of ginseng (discussed herein) and bear gall databases intended to support specialpark agents and criminal investigators with both research and law enforcement for threatenednatural resources.
Synthesis began life as a “hard-wired” air- resources in America’s national parks. It over- quality information management system. Its throughout NPS. It assists parks, regions, and enhanced to accept all types of information other NPS offices in the acquisition of natural from any subject area. Eventually, because of resource inventory and monitoring informa- the broader nature of the system, it was decid- tion and in the application of this information ed that the system should be moved to the to management decision-making and resource The Systems Management Branch pro- vides and administers servicewide databases to meet the needs of natural resource program managers. It also develops and maintains data associate director for natural resource stew- processing tools and procedures to help park ardship and science. It maintains offices in staffs manage natural resource information The Information Services Branch devel- The Inventory and Monitoring Branch preservation, management, and understand- documents the status and trends of natural ing of park natural resources. Informational Technology for Resource Management
materials and services are geared to reach the found between the several agencies charged public, park staffs, and NPS partners, and with making decisions on the protection of include education, interpretation, and public The Office of the Division Chief, through set was a primary protection tool, law enforce- the natural resource web manager, coordinates ment planners, with the support of the NRID, and manages NPS natural resource web activ- selected Synthesis as the information manage- ities. This includes overall coordination of Intranet, leading the interdisciplinary Natural Blue Ridge to the SRSC at JMU to be intro- Resource Web Team, and coordinating guid- duced into the database. NPS special agents ance and policy recommendations on natural provided NPS supervision of the project. The ginseng database developed for Shenandoah in response to this need is now a collection of in NPS are managed by park superintendents.
well-organized, easily accessible, and search- Specially trained rangers provide emergency able electronic documents containing infor- services and uniformed resource protection. A small cadre of criminal investigators focuses on long-term resource crimes or those which include, but are not limited to, biology, popu- require extensive investigation to halt the lation surveys, import/export data, conserva- resource harm and to restore the resource.
tion programs, and regulations. A limited Planning and prioritization of enforcement and compliance actions is conducted at the other than ginseng has been included.
park level, in conjunction with resources spe- cialists. Superintendents and chief rangers were modeled for the end user. Eventually, a from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, structure that mirrors the thought process of conservation enforcement professionals was National Park have determined to engage in shared evaluation, response planning, and Species Status, Threats to Resource, and active protection when resources held in com- Species Status is first on the outline because it is the first thing that a conservation cooperative project to identify, quantify, and law enforcement officer will seek to determine.
mitigate the risks to ginseng (Panax quinque- If resources are stable, further investigation is folius), galax (Galax rotundifolia), and three unlikely. By looking at the habitat require- other medicinal herbs. The resource risks are ments of the ginseng, the surveys document- a result of large and escalating international ing its locations in the park, how humans have used ginseng in the past, and ginseng popula- tion dynamics, the officer, in consultation with identified the absence of an extensive, shared resource scientists, will be able to quickly data set among resource-serving agencies. A common data set, shared among agencies with other conservation tools are required.
common missions, would serve as a conserva- tion tool in itself. It would also facilitate the resource risk is made, the next logical step to development of additional protective method- take is to assess and quantify threats to the ologies. Preliminary data gathering showed resource. Hence, part two of the outline: that a large body of information resided in sev- Threats to Resource. Under guidance from law eral federal and state agencies; however, the enforcement personnel at Shenandoah, sever- information was paper-based and lacked con- al topics were discussed for inclusion in the tinuity. No common links of information were outline. International trade reports, local and Technology for Resource Management
foreign price lists, import/export data, prior scanning, each document is converted to a criminal cases, and documents on hunting, JPEG (.jpg) image. OCR is used to correct finding, and digging medicinal herbs were found to be top priorities. These provide ments, and to transform documents into key- word-searchable files. As each document is successfully converted and conditioned, it is insight into complex derogation patterns.
added into an organized tree index of relevant Reports on international trade can identify categories. Documents are easily accessed locations in the park from which foreign mar- through the tree, or identified through key- kets are receiving medicinal herbs. Price lists word searches of files and metadata.
of ginseng in local markets can help identify where these herbs are bought for the highest cost, thus poached the most. Import/export data can help law enforcement officers locate that can be accessed to allow evaluation with- areas around parks where the most herbs are out opening the actual file. Metadata are being sold. Prior criminal cases will store pieces of information about the file that information on past poachers, so if an officer include author, date, title, publisher, and a crosses paths with someone on the list, closer description—basically all information that is attention can be paid to that individual. Many essential if the file is to be useful as a reference.
companies are in the medicinal herb business.
Some of these companies wish to educate cit- Dublin Core, an international metadata stan- izens about how to attain specific herbs such meetings, or even distributing brochures. The full-text algorithm or by using pre-assigned last portion of the outline stores information requires careful reading of each document, is a The third and final portion of the outline, time-consuming task for Synthesis specialists.
Protection Tools, provides law enforcement The full-text search function was recently officials the toolkit needed to design and implemented in Synthesis and saves a great implement interdisciplinary protection plans.
deal of time in database development; howev- Listed first are conservation programs that have been created to protect medicinal herbs advantageous in law enforcement and can be and other resources. The next section offers a done at the prerogative of the customer. The collection of laws and regulations from across the country that focus on policies regarding indexed. Full-text capability is an option in the protection of these resources. Last on the list is what may be the most important part of all the documents: public education. These database is shown in Table 1, with the number documents are used to educate the public on of documents for each category in parenthe- every aspect of the medicinal herb trade.
ses. When clicked, a category reveals addition- There is a wide range of conservation tools, al cascading categories and the actual docu- laws and regulations that may be improved.
ment titles. The documents in each category have been qualitatively assessed and sorted by involving tracing technology and replanting order of importance/relevance. More impor- techniques to further enforce restrictions.
tant documents are placed at the top of the list For electronic conversion and data condi- tioning, each paper document was scanned in Shenandoah’s ginseng database is a work in progress. It is expected to be implemented recognition) technology, then indexed for by the park’s special agents in 2003. The SRSC at JMU will provide on-going support Technology for Resource Management
Table 1. Outline of the Shenandoah National Park ginseng database
Other Protected/Endangered Plant Species (16) TRAFFIC Report on International Trade (2) Kentucky (2)North Carolina (6)Tennessee (2)Virginia (9)West Virginia (3)Others (12) databases; providing support for such efforts; revealed. The capabilities of the Synthesis and, most recently, developing multimedia interpretive VIEWS of the national parks.
for continued expansion of the ginseng data- base. In addition to new documents, the data- base will handle GIS information, which may contain different data types ranging from pho- River. The New River Gorge work will sup- tographic libraries to spreadsheets to internet- port future general management planning.
duit between users and program designers.
The full-text search engine referred to earlier,as well as improvements to metadata function- Acknowledgments
ality, were constructed in response to needs identified by the agents and rangers, commu- nicated by SRSC specialists to Synthesis sys- National Park Service (U.S. Department of the tem designers and programmers. Other func- Interior) and Shenandoah National Park is tions of the SRSC include training park per- sonnel to create, maintain, and use their own

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