The Department of Geography at San Diego State University has been given a $632,000 grant for developing new computer and other technologies to analyze land-use and environmental problems, it was announced Tuesday.
The Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation made the grant, which will be used to develop a data base of geographic information for San Diego County, to set up a chair in geographic studies, to begin an outreach program in San Diego for acquainting public and private planners and engineers with new technology, to fund graduate student studies and to develop new geography courses.
The increasing use of information systems is a major trend in geographical studies, such as a current San Diego State project using computer analysis to determine what areas of Cuyamaca State Park can be control-burned to prevent wildfires.
The Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation was established in 1939. Birch, who founded Kennecott Copper Corp. in the early 1900s, owned Rancho del Otay, now a suburban residential area east of Chula Vista, and spent part of the year there between the late 1920s and mid-1930s.
The foundation gave $6 million in 1986 to build a new aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, the largest commitment in the foundation’s history.