Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Forestry Sciences


Natural Resources Management


College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Brian Dietterick

Advisor College

College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Forest roads and stream channels are mapped using a variety of remote sensing and ground-based techniques. In densely forested areas, conventional remote sensing methods provide limited terrain information, while ground-based surveys can be time-consuming, difficult, and expensive. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is an airborne remote sensing technology used to create high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) of the earth’s surface. This study tests the accuracy of forest road and stream channel features mapped using LiDAR in the steep, forested terrain of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains. A conventional total station survey was used to determine centerline position and elevations along a four-kilometer forest road, and along six thirty-meter stream channel study reaches. A 1.5 m LiDAR DEM was suitable to accurately map the location of the forest road and channel features. Ninety five percent of the LiDAR-derived road length was located within 2.2 m normal to the field-surveyed centerline and LiDAR-derived road slopes were not significantly different from field-surveyed slopes. Stream channel features derived from the LIDAR DEM were located within 2.7 m normal to the field-surveyed thalweg, while the LiDAR-derived slopes measured within 0.49 percent of field-surveyed slopes. These findings indicate that LiDAR can provide accurate terrain measurements that are suitable for resource management and assessment.