Mark Christiano, the Kaibab National Forest’s geographic information systems coordinator, was recently honored with the Regional Forester's Innovation in Technology Award for the Southwestern Region of the Forest Service. The award "honors exceptional creativity" and "recognizes exemplary contributions that advance and promote the transfer of knowledge and technology," according to the Forest Service's nomination guidelines. Christiano was recognized for his efforts to bring together diverse stakeholders from across the state to support cooperative investments in technology and to promote data-sharing partnerships.
Christiano played a vital role in organizing the Arizona Geographic Information Council (AGIC) LiDAR Workgroup, which promotes efforts to obtain statewide LiDAR in Arizona by 2023 and values the exchange of information through education and outreach. Through this workgroup, Christiano, along with Jenna Leveille (deputy state cartographer for the Arizona State Land Department), conceived the idea for the Arizona's first-ever LiDAR symposium, which was held in August 2018. The symposium originally grew out of Christiano's desire to best inform the planning and implementation of forest restoration work across northern Arizona through use of high-quality LiDAR data.
Since this first symposium, the LiDAR Workgroup, including Christiano and Leveille, and in conjunction with the Arizona State University Library Map and Geospatial Hub, organized a follow-up AGIC LiDAR networking symposium held at the Map and Geospatial Hub in May 2019. The symposium was a huge success as it brought together stakeholders from public and private entities to create networks that support the acquisition of statewide LiDAR coverage. Opportunities, such as the recent symposium, help in achieving the objectives of statewide LiDAR coverage and the creation of educational platforms that increase public and industry knowledge of LiDAR.
"The LiDAR symposiums and work group have provided a platform for the exchange of information between the Forest Service and stakeholders in and around the state," said Ariel Leonard, forest planner on the Kaibab National Forest. "Mark’s leadership and coordination facilitated multi-party LiDAR acquisitions, resulting in a wide range of efficiencies and cost savings. Using his unique combination of technical, communication, and facilitation skills, he has made this huge accomplishment look easy, which it is not."
Christiano continues to advance LiDAR in the State of Arizona by serving in a leadership role on the AGIC LiDAR Work Group, which has achieved many successes since its inception in June 2018. Christiano was presented with his award by Southwestern Regional Forester Cal Joyner at a ceremony in Albuquerque last month.
"I feel really honored to have received this award," said Christiano. "In many ways, I feel this was a group award. A lot of partners, both from the Forest Service and the greater statewide GIS community, have come together to support projects of mutual benefit and to collaboratively fund the collection of this critical data."
Congratulations Mark!! This is a well-deserved award!
The Map and Geospatial Hub is honored to have partnered with you.