GIS Training for DNR Water Management Specialists

Wisconsin Coastal GIS Applications Project

GIS Training for DNR Water Management Specialists in Support of the Wisconsin Waters Initiative

David Hart
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute and
Land Information and Computer Graphics Facility, University of Wisconsin-Madison


The primary goal of this project is to develop a training program for Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) water management specialists on the use of geographic information systems (GIS) in their day-to-day activities. This activity supports the Wisconsin Waters Initiative, a program to integrate state and local water protection programs and make site-specific information readily available for state and local regulatory staff, property owners, and developers. Specific objectives of this project include:


Geographic information systems provide the means to manage, integrate, and analyze spatial data for use in management of water resources. The DNR has actively implemented GIS to support a broad range of department activities. The mission of the GIS program at DNR is "to develop and maintain the GIS technology, tools, databases and applications which provide spatial data management, analysis, and mapping capabilities to support DNR policy evaluation, decision-making, and program operations." Over 50 statewide GIS data sets have been developed, including detailed hydrography compiled at a scale of 1:24,000. The DNR is working on a Surface Water Integration System (SWIS) to improve decision-making about water resources and recently completed the second release of a customized ArcView extension called DNRview to encourage the broader use of GIS data inside the agency.


Six three-day "GIS for DNR Water Management Specialists" training sessions have been held, reaching 108 DNR staff.

Training Course Dates Attending
GIS for Water Management Specialists April 20-22, 2001 18
GIS for Water Management Specialists June 20-22, 2000 20
GIS for Water Management Specialists March 21-23, 2000 20
GIS for Water Management Specialists February 22-24, 2000 20
GIS for Water Management Specialists February 15-17, 2000 20
GIS for Water Management Specialists - Dry Run January 25-27, 2000 10

Follow-up visits to DNR regional offices in Spooner, EauClaire, Fitchburg, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Rhinelander were conducted during the summer of 2000. These visits covered new spatial data available for DNR staff and demonstrated additional uses of ArcView for water management issues. In addition, it allowed an opportunity for regional water management staff to identify barriers to the use of GIS in their day-to-day activities. While the evaluations of GIS training classes were positive, many water management specialists returned to very busy schedules and found it difficult to install and use ArcView. The regional visits allowed the trainers to work individually with specialists and overcome some of the barriers to GIS use (e.g. software and data installation, creation of pre-existing ArcView projects that accessed needed GIS data, and use of the software to create needed maps, reports, and analyses).

Six two-day Advanced ArcView GIS training sessions were conducted across the state during the summer of 2001. A total of 72 DNR staff attended these sessions

Training Course Dates Attending
Eau Claire May 22-23, 2001 7
Green Bay May 30-31, 2001 14
Madison June 13-14, 2001 14
Milwaukee July 24-25, 2001 9
Ashland July 30-31, 2001 15
Wisconsin Rapids August 21-22, 2001 13

They served as a refresher for basic ArcView concepts, introduced DNR staff to new GIS data sets, and provided an overview of the DNRView 2 extension.

GIS Training Exercises

Specialized GIS training exercises have been developed utilizing Wisconsin data sets and water management issues.

Exercise #1 - An ArcView Sampler (Wisconsin Edition) (Microsoft Word document - file size: 302K)
Exercise #2 - Views & Feature Themes (Microsoft Word document - file size: 586K)
Exercise #3 - Using the Legend Editor and Labeling (Microsoft Word document - file size: 443K)
Exercise #4 - Display Images in a View (Microsoft Word document - file size: 444K)
Exercise #5 - Map Projections and Coordinate Systems (Microsoft Word document - file size: 253K)
Exercise #6 - Querying Tables and Summarizing Records (Microsoft Word document - file size: 189K)
Exercise #7 - Building Relationships Between Tables (Microsoft Word document - file size: 380K)
Exercise #8 - Creating & Editing Shapefiles (Microsoft Word document - file size: 614K)
Exercise #9 - Analyzing Spatial Relationships (Microsoft Word document - file size: 296K)
Exercise #10 - Layouts & Graphics (Microsoft Word document - file size: 597K)

The datasets and ArcView projects to work with these exercises are available to State of Wisconsin employees and can be obtained from Amanda Schwoegler at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. They are designed to work in the c:/esritrn/arcview/wiscdata/ directory. Create such a directory on your c drive and uncompress the files there using a shareware package such as WinZip.

ArcView Tip Sheets

A series of tip sheets have been prepared to assist DNR water management specialists in how to use ArcView to find, load, and use specific GIS data that may be useful for analysis of water management issues.

ArcView Tip Sheet - Working With Wisconsin Wetland Inventory Data (draft Microsoft Word document - file size: 28K)
ArcView Tip Sheet - Working With NRCS Digital Soils Data (draft Microsoft Word document - file size: 1MB)
ArcView Tip Sheet - Working With FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (draft Microsoft Word document - file size: 28K)
ArcView Tip Sheet - Working With BPCL Original Plat Maps (draft Microsoft Word document - file size: 27K)

If you don't have Microsoft Word, you can download the free Microsoft Word 97/2000 Viewer. This software will allow you to read and print the tip sheets and GIS exercises.

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Last modified by David Hart on March 7, 2002.