GIS Frequently Asked Questions & Help Page

We've provided answers to the most frequently asked GIS questions about our GIS data and maps. If you cannot find your question here, contact Rich Kim, rich.kim@ecy.wa.gov, 360-407-6121.

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Table of Contents

Importing/Exporting:

  1. How do I use a zip file?
  2. What is a shapefile?
  3. Is your GIS data available in other formats like DXF?
  4. Where can I find a data converter?
  5. How do I create a DBF file in Access?
  6. How do I create a DBF file in Microsoft Excel 2007?
  7. How do I unzip a geodatabase file (GDB)?
  8. Why do I get white bars in my PDF image file when exporting from ArcMap using the GeoSpatial Portal imagery?

GIS Data:

  1. Where can I find a list of Ecology's data layers?
  2. Where can I find other GIS datasets?
  3. How can I view Ecology's GIS data?
  4. How do I convert Ecology's GIS data to NAD 27 (or any other projection)?
  5. How do I convert my NAD 27 data to Ecology's standard projection?
  6. How do I import a table with XY coordinates?
  7. Why isn't the DAMS layers available online?
  8. Where can I find a list of the facility types (attributes) in the FACILITIES layer?
  9. What are Ecology's GIS spatial standard for data creation and sharing?
  10. Where can I find scripts for ArcGIS?
  11. Where can I find symbolsets for ArcGIS?
  12. Are there any other map layers from the Coastal Zone Atlas of Washington available?
  13. Where can I get USGS Quadrangle maps?
  14. Do you have any aerial photographs/images available?
  15. Where can I find Shoreline Management Act (SMA) designations?
  16. Do you have a watershed layer that is smaller than WRIAs?
  17. Where can I find a Well Log?
  18. When trying to use the Maplex extension, with it turned on, why don’t I see the extended label properties for my data layer of interest?

Maps:

  1. What's a WRIA?
  2. I don't need digital data, do you have maps available?
  3. Is the digital data available that you used for your maps?
  4. Do you have any tips for printing your PDF maps?
  5. Are your maps available in any other formats besides PDF?
  6. I need to combine your maps for a couple of themes. How can I do this?
  7. Where can I find the date when a Bing aerial photograph was taken?

ArcGIS:

  1. How can I improve the performance of ArcGIS 8.1?
  2. Where can I find training for ArcGIS?

Other:

  1. Where can I find some facts (statistics) about Washington State?

[insert table of contents?]

Importing & exporting

1. How do I use a zip file?

Zip files are "archives" used for distributing and storing files. Ecology uses zip file compression for large files to save space. More information about zip files can be found on WinZip's website.

2. What is a shapefile?

Shapefiles are a vector data storage format for storing the location, shape, and attributes of geographic features. A shapefile is stored in a set of related files and contains one feature class.

3. Is your GIS data available in other formats like DXF?
Not here on our site. We can, however, convert it using ArcGIS' conversion tools. Due to the time involved though, we must charge for this service. Please contact us for further assistance or you can try using a data converter.

4. Where can I find a data converter?

If you can't use an E00 file, you will have to covert it to another format. Some data converters are found at this site: http://software.geocomm.com/translators.

5. How do I create a DBF file in Access?

Export the database table as a DBF file:

[Image 6]
 

6. How do I create a DBF file in Microsoft Excel 2007?

In Microsoft Excel 2007, there is no option to save the table in .dbf (dBASE) format as in previous versions. This is by design with Microsoft Office 2007.

Export an Excel table to .dbf format in ArcGIS:

  1. In Excel 2007, save the table as, 'Excel 97-2003 Workbook' (.xls format).
  2. Navigate to the .xls table location through ArcCatalog, and expand the file to view the worksheets.
  3. Right-click on the worksheet representing the table. Select Export > To dBase (single).

7. How do I unzip a geodatabase file?

When you download and unzip a file geodatabase (FGDB) zipped file (filename.gdb.zip), you need to unzip it into a folder with a .gdb extension. Otherwise, ArcGIS won't see it in the catalog tree. For example, in WinZip if you use the location button, WinZip will unzip the files into the current folder and you will see file names like in the picture below:

[Image 7]

You can get around this by following these steps:

  1. Create a folder named <file name>.gdb
  2. Extract the contents of the zip file to this GDB folder
  3. Refresh the location containing the folder in ArcCatalog
  4. The data should be recognized now as a FGDB in ArcCatalog

If you are using WinZip Pro, using the 1-Click Unzip button will automatically do this.

[Image 8]

8. Why do I get white bars in my PDF image file when exporting from ArcMap using the GeoSpatial portal imagery?

We believe this to be a memory shortage or bottleneck on the server. Since the size of the image file created and sent back over the network is very dependent upon the setting used on the “Output Image Quality (Resample Ratio)” slider bar, a good test or work-around would be to move the slider to the left until there is no banding.

ESRI Online Documentation: “It is recommended to use either Normal, or move the slider to the right to NormalBest or 1:2.”

 

[Image 9]

 

GIS data

1. Where can I find a list of Ecology's data layers?

At .https://ecy.gathercontent.com/item/3899650.

2. Where can I find other GIS datasets?

We have some other sites listed athttps://ecy.gathercontent.com/item/3899650. (jump link to bottom of page

Other sites:

3. How can I view Ecology's GIS data?

To use Ecology's GIS layers spatially, you need to have GIS software that can view shapefiles. One such program is ArcGIS Explorer or ArcReader, which are available for free at ESRI's website:

If you are not familiar with GIS and/or just want to view the tabular data, you can view the dBase (DBF) file that is part of the shapefile structure. When you unzip the zip file, you will find a DBF file. Shapefiles store the non-spatial (tabular) data in DBF format, which can then be viewed in a program, such as Microsoft Excel.

The Open Source GIS website has links to open source / free GIS related software projects that one can download. Note that we have not used these programs and therefore, cannot offer any recommendations nor support.

Our GIS Applications page has programs where some of our data can be viewed in your Internet browser.

4. How do I convert Ecology's GIS data to NAD 27 (or any other projection)?

[Image 10]

In ArcGIS, use ArcToolbox:

Click on:

  • Data Management Tools
  • Projections and Transformations
  • Feature
  • Project

Choose the dataset, the name you want to call the output, and then the output coordinate system. At this point you can also choose the projection of your choice, for example, UTM.

For Washington stateplane:

Choose:

  • Projected Coordinate Systems
  • State Plane
  • Nad 1927
  • NAD 1927 StatePlane Washington South FIPS 4602.prj

Of course, if your project is in the northern counties of the state, you will want to choose NAD 1927 StatePlane Washington North FIPS 4601.prj.

For the Geographic Transformation, you need to add two transformations:

  • NAD_1983_To_HARN_WA_OR
  • NAD_1927_To_NAD_1983_NADCON

Click on the plus button to choose them from the menu.

[Image 11]

Workstation Arc/Info:

If you have a coverage and are using workstation ArcInfo, use the PROJECT command with the COVER option:

ARC: project cover <input coverage> <output coverage> {projection file}

These are the projection file parameters to convert a coverage from NAD 83 HARN to NAD 27 for Washington state plane, south zone, feet:

input
projection stateplane
units feet
fipszone 4602
datum hpgn nadcon
parameters
output
projection stateplane
units feet
fipszone 4602 (or zone 5626)
datum nad27
parameters
end

If you want to save these parameters, copy and paste (omit the text in parenthesis) them to a projection file, which can be used the the command line as shown above. Note that a projection file is a text formatted file.

5. How do I convert my NAD 27 data to Ecology's standard projection (NAD 83 HARN)?

In ArcCatalog or ArcMap, use ArcToolbox. Start ArcToolBox by clicking on the toolbox icon in the tool bar.

Click on:

  • Data Management Tools
  • Projections and Transformations
  • Feature
  • Project

Click on Project to bring up the Project Menu.

[Image 12]

Project Menu

Choose the dataset to project.

Output Dataset or Feature Class:

ArcToolBox will create an output file name for you. If want to have a different name and/or path, fill in the name you want to call the output.

Output Coordinate System:

Click on the icon on the right side of the menu. The Spatial Reference Properties Menu will appear.

[Image 13]

Spatial Reference Properties Menu

Note the Details: section is blank.

Click on the Select button (middle of the menu)

[Image 14]

Browse for Coordinate System Menu

Choose:

Projected Coordinate Systems

Click the Add button

[Image 15]

Browse for Coordinate System Menu

Choose:

State Plane

Click the Add button

[Image 16]

Browse for Coordinate System Menu

Choose:

NAD 83 HARN (Feet, Intl and US)

Click the Add button

[Image 17]

Browse for Coordinate System Menu

Choose:

NAD 1983 HARN StatePlane Washington South FIPS 4602 Feet.prj

Click the Add button

[Image 18]

Browse for Coordinate System Menu

Scroll to the end and find Washington.

Choose:

NAD 1983 HARN StatePlane Washington South FIPS 4602 Feet.prj

Click the Add button

[Image 19]

Spatial Reference Properties Menu

Note that Details: section is now filled out with the NAD 83 HARN projection information.

Click on the OK button at the bottom of the menu to continue.

[Image 20]

Project Menu

Now you need to choose the Geographic Transformation. Note that his transformation consists of two parts so you need to make two selections.

Click the down arrow at the right side of the Geographic Transformation fill-in form.

[Image 21]

Project Menu

First transformation: NADCON.

Choose:

NAD_1927_To_NAD_1983_ NADCON

[Image 22]

Project Menu

Second transformation: WA_OR.

Click the down arrow to bring up the menu again.

Choose:

NAD_83_To_HARN_WA_OR

[Image 23]

Project Menu

Your menu should look like this:

If you made a mistake, highlight the entry and click on the delete button. Then click the down arrowbutton to add the correct one.

Click the OK button to start the transformation process.

[Image 24]

If you are using workstation ArcInfo and are using coverages, use the PROJECT command with the COVER option:Workstation Arc/Info:

ARC: project cover <input coverage> <output coverage> {projection file}

These are the projection file parameters to convert a coverage from NAD 27 to NAD 83 HARN for Washington state plane, south zone, feet:

input
projection stateplane
units feet
zone 5626
datum nad27
parameters
output
projection stateplane
units feet
fipszone 4602
datum hpgn nadcon
parameters
end

If you want to save these parameters, copy and paste them to a projection file. Note that a projection file is a text formatted file.

6. How do I import a table with XY coordinates?

In ArcMap you can import an Excel table or DBF file containing a field with XY coordinates by first loading the file into ArcMap.

Please note that the latitude (Y) and longitude (X) need to be in decimal degrees and west longitudes need to use a negative number (south latitudes requires a negative number, too).

  1. Load the table into ArcMap
  2. Right click on the name of the table
  3. Click on the Display XY Data command.

[Image 25]

  1. A Display XY menu appears.
  2. The X coordinate is longitude and the Y is latitude.
  3. Fill in the fields for X Field and Y Field. In this example, the field names are LONG_DD and LAT_DD.
  4. Click the Edit button to enter the coordinate system.

[Image 26]

Choose:

Geographic Coordinate Systems

Click OK Button

[Image 27]

Choose:

North America

Click OK Button

[Image 28]

Choose:

NAD 1983 HARN

Click OK Button

[Image 29]

Verify entries are correct.

Done!

Click OK Button

[Image 30]

ArcMap creates a new POINT layer and

automatically adds it to your map document.

This new layer is in decimal degrees NAD 1983 HARN.

[Image 31]


7. Why isn't the dams layer available online?

Due to security concerns from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, we removed the dams layer from our website for FTP downloads; however, it is available by request.

Our Facility/Site layer also contains DAMS. Query the field: InteractionType = 'DAM'.

8. Where can I find a list of the facility types (attributes) in the facilities layer?

Facility types are in the field, InteractionType. View a table on our data sets page.

More information on facilities (a.k.a. facility/site) can be found on our Facility/Site database page.

9. What are Ecology's GIS spatial standard for data creation and sharing?

See our GIS Standards webpage.

10. Where can I find scripts for ArcGIS?

ESRI' site has a script library:

11. Where can I find symbolsets for ArcGIS?

Sites that we know of:

12. Are any other map layers from the Coastal Zone Atlas of Washington available?

Not yet. We are currently working on the coastal dynamics, geology and habitat layers. Please contact Brain Lynn, Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program (SEA), (360) 407-6224, for more information.

13. Where can I get USGS Quadrangle maps?

At the University of Washington, look for Digital Raster Graphics (DRG).

14. Do you have any aerial photographs/images available?

Also, some county GIS websites have a GIS mapping application that shows aerial photography. Check with the county that you are interested in (links to county websites).

15. Where can I find Shoreline Management Act (SMA) designations?

Designations for the Shoreline Management Act, like conservancy, natural, urban, rural, etc., are managed by individual cities and counties where the shoreline is located. Our layers only show where streams and waterbodies fall under shoreline jurisdiction. Here are some links for Washington counties and cities. For more information on the SMA, see Ecology's Shoreline Management Homepage.

16. Do you have a watershed layer that is smaller than WRIAs?

Ecology does not, some other agencies do:

17. Where can I find a well log?

Please contact Chris Anderson, (360) 407-6634, if you need more information on this application. Also, we have a GIS Well Log Location layer available for download.

18. When trying to use the Maplex extension, with it turned on, why don’t I see the extended label properties for my data layer of interest?

Make sure the Group Layer containing the data layer of interest is the Active Group Layer, then turn on Maplex from the Labeling toolbar. Now you should see the extended label properties.

Maps

1. What's a WRIA?

Ecology and other state resource agencies frequently use a system of "Watershed Resource Inventory Areas" or "WRIAs" to refer to the state's major watershed basins.

2. I don't need digital data, do you have maps available?

Yes, we have some in PDF format on our maps page. If these maps do not fit your needs, please contact Adam Oestreich - GIS Analyst/Cartographer, adam.oestreich@ecy.wa.gov or 360-407-6418 to discuss your request.

3. Is the digital data available that you used for your maps?

Yes, but it's usually available as a statewide data layer. Please check our GIS data page or geography.wa.gov for data developed by other state or federal agencies.

4. Do you have any tips for printing your PDF maps?

Yes, view the section, Tips for Viewing and Printing WRIA, County, and State PDF MAPS, on our maps page.

5. Are your maps available in any other formats besides PDF?

Contact Adam Oestreich - GIS Analyst/Cartographer, adam.oestreich@ecy.wa.gov or 360-407-6418 for more information.

6. I need to combine your maps for a couple of themes. How can I do this?

Each of the maps within each WRIA or county are designed to be used in overlay format with one another using hard copy transparency film. For example, one can overlay all of the theme maps in WRIA 1 or Thurston County; however, adjacent WRIAs or counties cannot be joined, as in WRIAs 2 and 3 or Thurston and Pierce counties, because they are of different scales.

7. Where can I find the date when a Bing aerial photograph was taken?

Webpage: http://mvexel.dev.openstreetmap.org/bing/
ArcGIS Online: http://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=c03a526d94704bfb839445e80de95495

ArcGIS

1. How can I improve the performance of ArcGIS

SeePerformance Tips and Tricks for ArcGIS Desktop 8.1, An ESRI technical paper, September 2001 (PDF format).

2. Where can I find training for ArcGIS?

The Washington State Department of Personnel offers ArcGIS training. Also, try Environmental Systems Research Institute, your local colleges, or do a search in Google.