Keep NAIP Imagery Free & Open
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The USDA - Farm Service Agency National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) may be moving to a licensed data model as early as 2019. It is the State of Idaho's best interest that NAIP remains free and open to the public in order to continue to share information and carry out our public interest work.
As a member of the Idaho geospatial community, I would like to express my overwhelming support for continued open and free access to data collected under the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP).
NAIP imagery is an integral component in a multitude of GIS applications widely accessed by the public as well as a foundational base map layer for applications used by a network of people and organizations at all levels of government and academia in Idaho. Open and free access to NAIP imagery allows urban and natural resource program managers, decision makers, and staff at many levels (administrative, technical, GIS, and field) to engage in quality analyses to protect natural resources, to provide data verification, and to monitor change detection.
The range and variety of how imagery, and NAIP imagery in particular, is used - from regulatory and compliance monitoring to field mapping to scientific assessment – is a testament to its importance. Since NAIP has been so freely shared in the past, many crucial, cooperative decisions have been made using it as a foundational base map layer. Thus, it provides a level of standardization for policy determinations that would disappear if it is no longer collected and cooperatively shared.
As a frequent user of NAIP imagery, I urge USDA FSA APFO decision makers to maintain free and open access to NAIP imagery in order to continue to share information and carry out our public interest work.
I acknowledge the budget pressures motivating the possible move to a licensed data model; however, limited access to NAIP imagery will have considerable impacts to state, regional, and local governments already experiencing tightened budgets and reduced staff. I believe that collecting data that serves a public good is an excellent use of our federal dollars and should continue to be served freely and openly to the national geospatial community, be it from the USDA FSA APFO NAIP or from another national program that would be consistently funded.
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