This report summarizes the development of a binational vegetation map developed for the Santa Cruz Watershed, which straddles the southern border of Arizona and the northern border of Sonora, Mexico. The map was created as an environmental input to the Santa Cruz Watershed Ecosystem Portfolio Model (SCWEPM) that is being created by the U.S. Geological Survey for the watershed. The SCWEPM is a map-based multicriteria evaluation tool that allows stakeholders to explore tradeoffs between valued ecosystem services at multiple scales within a participatory decision-making process. Maps related to vegetation type and are needed for use in modeling wildlife habitat and other ecosystem services. Although detailed vegetation maps existed for the U.S. side of the border, there was a lack of consistent data for the Santa Cruz Watershed in Mexico. We produced a binational vegetation classification of the Santa Cruz River riparian habitat and watershed vegetation based on NatureServe Terrestrial Ecological Systems (TES) units using Classification And Regression Tree (CART) modeling. Environmental layers used as predictor data were derived from a seasonal set of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) images (spring, summer, and fall) and from a 30-meter digital-elevation-model (DEM) grid. Because both sources of environmental data are seamless across the international border, they are particularly suited to this binational modeling effort. Training data were compiled from existing field data for the riparian corridor and data collected by the NM-GAP (New Mexico Gap Analysis Project) team for the original Southwest Regional Gap Analysis Project (SWReGAP) modeling effort. Additional training data were collected from core areas of the SWReGAP classification itself, allowing the extrapolation of the SWReGAP mapping into the Mexican portion of the watershed without collecting additional training data.
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Development of a high-resolution binational vegetation map of the Santa Cruz River riparian corridor and surrounding watershed, southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico