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La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians Hosts Wingtra LiDAR Drone Demo for Community Partners

The La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians hosted a demonstration of Wingtra’s LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) sensor to better understand threats to oak woodlands through aerial mapping and surveying. The demonstration provided an opportunity for attendees to learn how Wingtra’s drones can help visualize the scale of gold spotted oak borer (GSOB) infestation across hundreds of acres of oak woodlands.


Training participants stand for a group photo inside a large gymnasium, holding bright orange LiDAR drones, standing in front of television screens containing the Wingtra logo.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Soland via LinkedIn

On March 7th, the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians hosted a demonstration of Wingtra’s LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology to better understand threats to oak woodlands through aerial mapping and surveying. The demonstration provided an opportunity for attendees to learn how Wingtra’s drones can help visualize the scale of gold spotted oak borer (GSOB) infestation across hundreds of acres of oak woodlands. GSOB, a black and gold-spotted beetle smaller than a penny, is the major cause of oak decline in southern California. Mapping tools like the LiDAR sensor from Wingtra can help researchers and community members see the real-time impact of GSOB and climate stressors, such as drought, on local oak woodlands. This technology can also help track the benefits of using traditional stewardship techniques, such as cultural burning, to manage and protect oaks.


Kevin Soland—who supports the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians’ Forestry Crew in establishing their natural trails, a demonstration project from CNNCTS—reflected on the importance of this technology in supporting ongoing efforts:

“In my current workflow, I use a high-res multispectral (MS) camera to monitor forest health projects and hunt for pest-infested trees. Although MS imagery provides a great deal of physiological data, it does not inform on structure. Stressed trees typically exhibit signs of reduced chlorophyll and growth decline. By combining MS and LiDAR data from a Wingtra, we can monitor both of those signs with superb detail and on a scale like never before. No doubt they will be used to leverage important projects aimed at improving forest health and creating fire resilience.”

As part of CNNCTS, the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians will utilize this technology to support adaptation planning efforts and their ongoing investment in training Tribal staff to ensure that the knowledge gained informs land management decisions across jurisdictional boundaries. Landscape-level management options for GSOB based on Indigenous cultural burning practices are being researched by Joelene Tamm, Director of Natural Resources at the La Jolla Band of Luiseño. Learn more about her research by visiting her ArcGIS StoryMap here.


Learn more about the Collaborative for Native Nations for Climate Transformation and Stewardship (CNNCTS) at cnncts.org.

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