Watershed Boundaries


I want to create a project with a watershed boundary as part of a lesson where students learn about what lives in their watershed by looking at the observations. I am not finding a tutorial on how to import your own boundary although I see people talking about it.

Can anyone point me to the right resource or walk me through this? I would like to use the KML files from this page: https://edna.usgs.gov/watersheds/kml_index.htm

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go to https://www.inaturalist.org/places/new, and go to the “Manually create a new place” section. There there is an option to upload a kml file:

then, add the name and any other information you’d like to add, and click on “Save place”.

it says in the link that you posted that

If I understand what it says on the new place page correctly, the kml file has to be smaller than 1 MB for a regular user to create a new place with it. In that case you’d have to contact a curator or site admin to create the place for you.

the place you want to use might already exist, so you can try searching here: https://www.inaturalist.org/places

Even curators can only load up to 5mb. I’d suggest pretty strongly reaching out to the help desk at help@inaturalist.org not just because of this, but to discuss how they want to proceed. Essentially recreating the entire US as newly split up watersheds (you dont indicate if you want to add just some or all of those) will have some serious indexing implications given the 15million odd records it could impact.

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Hi Anne!
I’d encourage you to use the smallest possible watershed in this instance, and to check extensively to see if anyone else may have already created a relevant watershed place that you can reuse.

Adding (or editing) large places in the US (or other areas of dense observations) is very taxing to the system so we want to minimize events like that.

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Thank you all! Very helpful.

Perhaps instead of a KML file I should draw a polygon. For my purposes the watershed boundaries do not have to be exact.

Do polygons have the same kind of impact on the system that KML files do? In other words, should I be mindful of the size of the polygon?

on the new place page, it says it must have an area smaller than the US scate of Texas…

I think she means the file size of the polygon. As far as i know, at least for the tools non site employees can use, you only have 2 options, to hand draw it or to load a kml file.

The same consideration should be understood to apply to any file regardless of file type- a Polygon is a type of object, after all, not a file type- I usually upload my polygons as KML files, without any problems. The KML files for the watershed you have from an external source may contain other objects or attribute data in addition to the basic watershed boundary polygon (or the polygon may be super precise with lots and lots of points, maybe?) which would account for the filesize issue.

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So just to clarify, both hand drawn polygons and polygons uploaded as part of a KML file should be as small as the work allows and smaller than the state of Texas.



Yes, it’s the size of the polygon that matters.


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