The USGS’ National Geospatial Program is in year one of an 8-year program to create the first publicly available, national 3D elevation map using lidar. Called the 3D Elevation Program or 3DEP, it is a collaboration of federal agencies, states, territories, local governments, and private industries. 3DEP is systematically collecting lidar data across the country and leveraging existing lidar surveys into a central collection. The program established data quality standards and is now acquiring new lidar data to fill crucial gaps.
In one example, a fault was identified from the bare earth model as being active when it was previously thought to be inactive. This could have major implications for 150,000 people that inhabit the Bitterroot valley in Montana.
It is imperative that we all do what we can to support the 3DEP program whenever the opportunity presents itself.