Esri, a longtime advocate of environmental conservation, is pleased to showcase 10 influential online federal and nongovernmental maps that anyone can use to become part of the nation's wilderness conservation effort. In concert with Wilderness50, a coalition of agencies, organizations, and universities, Esri celebrates the success of America's Wilderness Act and encourages citizens to participate in learning about and preserving wilderness in their areas.
Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 3, 1964, America's Wilderness Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and set aside 9.1 million acres of wilderness. Today, federal and nongovernment agencies use geographic information system (GIS) technology to manage more than 100 million acres of wilderness. GIS technology also helps them meet their mission to make wilderness information available to the public.
The following is a selection of 10 organizations that have created maps and GIS services that everyone can freely and easily use to create maps, perform analysis, and share information:
- The University of Montana and four federal agencies collaborated to develop Wilderness.net, which connects people to their wilderness heritage. Rich in information, this service offers an interactive map and free downloadable mobile mapping apps. While on the trail, hikers can use these informative apps on their smartphones to enrich their wilderness experience as well as help maintain the environment for future visitors.
- The US Geological Survey (USGS) built a national geodatabase that contains public land ownership data including conservation status codes. The service makes US conservation efforts transparent to everyone.
- The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) created the publication site GeoCommunicator that provides public land descriptions, surveys, range allotments, and site-specific geospatial data for location-based decision making. Citizens can use GeoCommunicator to see areas of critical environmental concern that the BLM manages. They can use the map to zoom to anywhere in the United States, find environmental concerns in areas near them, and take action.
- The US National Park Service (NPS) developed NPScape, a map service that offers user friendly tools that help people get answers to their conservation questions. For example, by combining total human-population by census block-group data with the location of Saguaro National Park, a land-use planner can easily create a map that shows urban sprawl relevant to wilderness areas.
- The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) designed National Wetlands Mapper to promote the conservation and understanding of wetlands. This easy-to-use GIS viewer is particularly useful to anyone wanting to integrate wetland data with other digital map data and better understand wetland relationships and patterns.
- The Wilderness Society (TWS) uses the Solar Energy Environmental Mapper, which is an application sponsored by the US Department of Energy and the BLM. TWS uses the application to analyze the Solar Energy Development program in the west and reduce the impact of solar farms on wilderness areas. Agencies and the public have open access to this solar project data. They will find it particularly insightful in weighing the value of alternative energy and land preservation.
- The Trust for Public Land (TPL) developed the Conservation Almanac to geographically show conservation spending and statistics by location. Anyone can use the interactive map to discover, analyze, and map the results of federal, state, and local funding for land conservation all the way back to 1998.
- The Nature Conservancy (TNC) GIS services include a broad assortment of conservation maps at local, national, and global levels. For example, TNC's Priority Conservation Areas identifies 9,000 priority areas needing conservation. Once a location is entered into the search tool, the map zooms in to the location and shows conservation targets in the area, perhaps a brown pelican or a gopher tortoise.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) uses GIS to publish the nation's weather information. The health of America's wilderness area is closely linked to climate and weather. NOAA's platform Climate.gov makes the administration's maps available to everyone. Communities everywhere can use this information to create climate-resilient strategies to preserve nearby wilderness areas.
- The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History has opened a photography exhibition, Wilderness Forever: 50 Years of Protecting America's Wild Places, which will run through summer 2015. Within this exhibit, two GIS applications that geospatially tell the story of America's wilderness areas are featured on kiosks and available online. One is Wilderness in Context that geographically provides vital wilderness information about size, remoteness, climate, and terrain. The other is Explore the Photographs, a delightful story map presenting exquisite wilderness photography across the American landscape.
Join Esri and Wilderness50 in celebrating the 50th anniversary of America's Wilderness Act at the National Wilderness Conference, to be held October 15–19, 2014, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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