Corps Lab Ends GRASS Development


Corps Lab Ends GRASS Development

CHAMPAIGN, IL -- The U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories (CERL) has announced it will no longer develop public domain software related to Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS). Since 1985, CERL has released upgrades and enhancements to GRASS and provided technical user support. The lab will transition out of all GRASS-related work by spring 1996.

Ten to 15 years ago, when we started work on GRASS, we saw a major technology gap between the marketplace and the Army’s requirements. So we provided the Army a set of GIS tools to help with environmental management, said Bill Goran, Land Management Laboratory Chief at CERL. Since that time, GRASS has influenced the market and many vendors offer good raster analysis features which rival the strengths of GRASS. Today the GIS providers are a mature industry fully capable of meeting the Army’s needs.

GRASS is a geographic information and image processing system developed by CERL to help Army environmental managers model effects of military activities and practice stewardship. It has also supported environmental assessments and other compliance-related work.

While GRASS is public domain software, several companies use it or GRASS-like features in their commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) products. These features provide the tools that had been identified as critical for military use. CERL is entering into partnering agreements with several key companies to help ensure continued support to military GIS users. To date, an agreement has been drafted with the Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc., (ESRI), which produced Arc/Info, Arc View, and other products. CERL is also seeking agreements with Intergraph, MGE’s producer, and with Logiciels et Applications Scientifiques, Inc. (LAS), a Montreal company providing COTS software products (GRASSLANDS) running in a PC environment and based on GRASS.

We strongly encourage efforts with commercial vendors, said Richard Manning, who chairs the Installation Spatial Technical Advisory Board (ISTAB). COTS software products are leading edge technology and apply to many natural resource and environmental applications. Manning is a natural resources planner at the Army Materiel Command’s Dugway Proving Ground, UT.ISTAB was formed to represent the interests of Major Commands and installations in providing spatial technology for environment management.

Under the planned agreements, CERL will take an active role in helping the industry partner understand the GIS needs at military installations and within the Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, CERL will continue developing advanced technology for geospatial modeling and specific applications related to land management. This will be cooperative development with COTS vendors to ensure all products will work with the systems used at military sites.

We’ll continue developing decision support tools for the Army, but it will be in a COTS environment where we believe their needs will be best served, Goran explained. CERL has already begun implementing the X Windows version of the Cultural Resources Information System which used Arc View.

CERL will wrap up its work with GRASS this spring with an internet release of enhancements funded through that time. However, no offline documentation, tutorials, or user support will be made available. Existing information on the GRASS world wide web sites will be maintained for some time as background. To access the final features and GRASS information on the internet, the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is, uniform resource locator (URL) is; or go to the GRASS link from the CERL home page at

For more information, contact Robert Lozar at CERL, 217/373-6739 or toll-free, 800- USA-CERL, e-mail



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Last Modified: Mar 29, 1996
By: Bruce L. Rives