Dr. Max W. Reams
Scholarship of Discovery
Starved Rock State Park in North-Central Illinois is not topographically flat as are many glaciated areas of Illinois. Its deep canyons and steep valley walls provide the backdrop for a diverse variety of natural hazards. Geologic hazards include steep canyon walls, flooding with erosion events, high elevation vantage points, and rock falls. Other natural hazards include falling tree branches and steep staircases. ArcGIS was used to record locations of both hazards and injuries along the trails and feature classes were made for each hazard. These feature classes were spatially joined and a weighted sum computed to create a hazard rating for each trail; the values ranged from 0 to 151. These hazard ratings were divided into three categories: least, somewhat, and most hazardous. This is a new way to rate trails, not by difficulty, but by how hazardous they are. The Illinois Canyon Trail was the most hazardous with a rating of 151. The high rating is due to its large number of rockfalls. My next step is to partner with the park to increase visitor awareness of hazards and encourage the public to be more careful where and when they hike. A Trails Hazard Rating map might be available to visitors in the future.
Ryherd, Julia, "Ranking trails based on natural hazards instead of difficulty: A case study on Starved Rock State Park" (2015). Honors Program Projects. 80.
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