Indicator: Terrestrial - Piedmont Prairie

Mar 17, 2021
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Recommended by South Atlantic Blueprint

This indicator represents Piedmont prairies, which are grasslands with and without trees that once covered most Piedmont uplands and support important plants, birds, and pollinators. It captures known Piedmont prairies, restorable Piedmont prairies located in power line rights-of-way, and other possible prairie locations based on landcover data.

Reason for Selection

Many rare plant species in the Piedmont are not-well captured by other indicators, in part because they often require the types of regular disturbance that tend to occur in less pristine areas like roadsides and power line rights-of-way (e.g., mowing). Underprioritization of known Piedmont prairie areas was a known issue in previous versions of the Blueprint. In addition, grassland birds are experiencing significant declines and are currently off-track for meeting the SECAS 10% goal, so better capturing grasslands is a priority Blueprint improvement. This Piedmont prairie indicator represents a first attempt at modeling grasslands, and will likely be expanded outside the Piedmont ecoregion in future Blueprint updates.

Input Data

• Known prairie locations

• Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data: Electric Power Transmission Lines, accessed 1- 29-2021

• 2016 National Land Cover Database (NLCD)

• South Atlantic 2021 Subregions

Mapping Steps

1) To identify known prairie locations, we requested spatial data on known prairies from the 74 members of the Piedmont Prairie Partnership mailing list. We combined that information with known locations in Virginia aggregated by the Virginia Natural Heritage Program (available on request by emailing Known prairie locations were converted from vector to raster and given a value of 33) Of the remaining pixels, pixels that were identified as transmission lines (transmission line data were converted from vector line to raster) that coincided with the following NLCD classes were given a value of 2: Developed, Open Space, Barren Land, Deciduous Forest, Evergreen Forest, Mixed Forest, Shrub/Scrub, Herbaceuous, Hay/Pasture4) Of the remaining pixels, following NLCD classes were given a value of 1: Shrub/Scrub, Herbaceous, Hay/Pasture5) All remaining pixels were given a value of 06) The data were clipped to the Piedmont region using the South Atlantic 2021 Subregion data layer

Final Indicator Values

Indicator values were assigned as follows: 3 = Known prairie2 = Restorable prairie in power line right-of-way1 = Possible prairie0 = Prairie unlikely

Known Issues

• The powerline dataset does not include smaller powerline rights-of-way that can also be important prairie. Important roadside piedmont prairie habitat often occurs in these smaller powerline rights-of-way. We are continuing to look for data sources that depict these smaller powerline rights-of-way across the full Piedmont.

• Other locations of disturbance that can help maintain prairies, like sewer lines and pipelines are not included in this indicator. We have not been able to find a multi-state data layer that depicts sewer line locations. A national dataset on pipeline locations does exist but it’s terms of use do not allow use to use it in an indicator.

• Some areas with known prairies are not included due to concerns about poaching of threatened and endangered plants

• Thin, linear prairies are sometimes missed in the possible prairie category. The 30m landcover resolution results in some grassland areas being classified as forest.

Disclaimer: Comparing with Older Indicator Versions

There are numerous problems with using South Atlantic indicators for change analysis. Please consult Blueprint staff if you would like to do this (email

Literature Cited

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Homeland Security Infrastructure Program Team. June 2020. Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data: Electric Power Transmission Lines. [].

Homer, Collin G., Dewitz, Jon A., Jin, Suming, Xian, George, Costello, C., Danielson, Patrick, Gass, L., Funk, M., Wickham, J., Stehman, S., Auch, Roger F., Riitters, K. H., Conterminous United States land cover change patterns 2001–2016 from the 2016 National Land Cover Database: ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, v. 162, p. 184–199. [].

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generated using ADIwg mdTranslator 2.17.1
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Content date:
2021-03-15 14:14:07 (creation Date), 2020-09-01 04:00:00 (Start Date), 2022-09-01 04:00:00 (End Date)
Rua Mordecai(Principal Investigator), Amy Keister(Co-Investigator), 2021-03-15(creation), Indicator: Terrestrial - Piedmont Prairie,
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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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South Atlantic Blueprint

The South Atlantic Conservation Blueprint is a living spatial plan to conserve natural and cultural resources for current and future generations in the face of future change. It spans parts of six states, from Virginia to Florida, including U.S. waters to 200 miles offshore. The Blueprint...