Posts Tagged ‘GPS – GIS’

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Era For Collaborative Mapping In The Adirondacks

ADKmashupMap

In a recent blog post about Washington County’s new interactive webmap, I alluded to the new and exciting opportunities maps like this present for collaborative mapping in the Adirondacks.  To illustrate these opportunities, I’ve created a ‘mashup’ map that brings together data from several sources, including Washington County, Long Lake / Raquette Lake, and Newcomb, along with some data collected at a more regional level as part of an Adirondack Partnership project I was peripherally involved with.  The mashup map can be viewed by clicking here.

I had to do some custom coding to bring the data together and add features like the type-ahead search box in the upper-right and the quick zooms, but the actual information is being pulled ‘live’ from online databases maintained by each of these entities.   So when Washington County, Newcomb or Long Lake adds a new restaurant, modifies the route of a hiking trail or changes the contact info for a hotel, it is immediately reflected not only on their map, but also on my mashup and any other sites pulling from their database.  » Continue Reading.



Thursday, April 24, 2014

New Mapping Resources From The Adirondack Park Agency

APA-GIScapture The Adirondack Park Agency has some of the most skilled GIS (Geographic Information Sysytems) analysts at work in the park, and they have also been very proactive in sharing their mapping resources with the public.    I thought Adirondack Almanack readers might be interested in some of the new additions to the agency GIS page found here: http://apa.ny.gov/gis/

Some of the new products include maps of Park Webcams (with links so you can see the live feed), USGS Stream flow stations, and a newly released (Feb 2014) version of their meticulously curated ‘Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan Map and State Land Map’ that now includes the newly classified land in the Essex Chain lakes between Newcomb and Indian Lake. » Continue Reading.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Jack Drury: A Proposal For Rail AND Trail

Rail.locator (2)(1)I’ve been an advocate of more recreational trails throughout the park for a long time. I also feel that we’ll be cheated if we don’t try our damnedest to try to have a rail and trail, side by side where possible and intersecting when not.

In a March 16 letter to the Utica Observer Dispatch respected trail advocate Tony Goodwin noted that a rail with trail, “… is not physically possible” and that:  “Periodically leaving the corridor is so far just talk. A year ago, Tupper Lake rail supporters formed a committee to look at a parallel trail from Tupper Lake to the campground at Rollins Pond. I know committee members made field inspections, but so far there’s no plan showing that a parallel trail could feasibly be built.”

I decided to take a deeper look. I talked with some folks from Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake who have explored the rail corridor in greater detail than I have. I took their information and combined it with my own experience and I made a map of a possible trail from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake.  » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tracking Wildlife: Where Do Bobcats Cross The Road?

M2E1L2-17R350B300Nature Conservancy field technicians this winter are doing wildlife detective work in New York’s Southern Lake Champlain Valley. This in-between zone characterized by farms and forests and crisscrossed with roads may provide a vital “land bridge” for bobcats and other critters to travel to and from large forest blocks in the Adirondacks and Vermont.

Outdoor guide and writer Elizabeth Lee, of Westport, and University of Vermont graduate student Gus Goodwin are working with the Conservancy’s Alissa Rafferty, who is based in Keene Valley. They are collecting records of animal activity that would be impossible to witness in real time. Good old-fashioned tracking skills—finding animal prints left in the snow, measuring their size, assessing the critter’s gait, and piecing together other clues—help them determine if a print belongs to a bobcat or a coyote, a fisher or a fox, a moose or a deer. They also use trail cameras to supplement these records, helping to confirm animal identification, and snapping photos 24/7 no matter the snow conditions. » Continue Reading.



Friday, November 15, 2013

Adirondack Park Recreational Web Portal Planned

BrochuresA group of Adirondack Region organizations are partnering to develop an inventory of recreational opportunities in the Adirondack Park to be made available as a web portal and travel app. The new webpage and app is expected to launch at the peak of ski season in early 2014.

The Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages (AATV), in partnership with the Capital Region’s Center for Economic Growth, the Mohawk Valley’s Central Adirondack Partnership for the 21st Century (CAP-21), and the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (ARTC) are currently working to compile an inventory of tourism amenities and opportunities available in the Adirondack Park that will form the basis of the new website and app. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, October 10, 2013

An Adirondack Recreational Web Portal In The Works

adkGoogleMapsScreenShotI have to confess, I love Google Maps, and not just because I’m a map guy.  Google Maps is my “go-to” when exploring unfamiliar territory. There’s a reason why Google Maps is the most popular smartphone app.  Forget browser searches—it is far more efficient to just type in what you’re looking for into Google Maps, and presto- you have a nice interactive map showing the nearest examples complete with links and (mostly) accurate directions, not only for driving, but also bicycling, public transit and even walking.

However, you may have noticed that the usefulness of Google Maps declines as you get into the Adirondack Park.  » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dan Crane’s Backcountry Digital Device Guidelines

Wolf Pond lean-to siteThe encroachment of cellphones, the Internet and Wi-Fi into the backcountry was the impetus of my last Adirondack Almanack article. Before long, this encroachment shall transform into the inevitability of an all-out invasion, barring any lethal worldwide epidemic, nuclear winter, asteroid collision or zombie apocalypse. Since it would be imprudent to rely on such unlikely occurrences happening in the near future, guidelines governing the use of these digital gadgets appear sorely needed.

Rules and regulations abound for electronic gadgets in the frontcountry, so why not in the backcountry? Driving while texting or talking on a cellphone is illegal on our roads, despite the flagrant disregard for this law surpassed only by that of the stated speed limits, so why not institute similar policies for the Adirondack trails?
» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dan Crane: Adirondack Information Supertrailway

Toad PondOccasionally escaping technology is essential for maintaining one’s peace of mind, especially as high tech gadgets increasingly invade every facet of modern life. From incessantly checking email, the ever-present Internet surfing temptation and the constant threat of an irritating cellphone ringtone disturbing every moment, it is important to find a refuge before becoming mental roadkill on the information superhighway.

The Adirondack backcountry used to be such a refuge, but it may not remain so for much longer.

Recently, the Washington Post, among others, reported about a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) plan to create a super Wi-Fi network, so powerful it could “penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees.” And presumably, into the interior of the Adirondack backcountry. Worse yet, it would be free for public use.
» Continue Reading.



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: Surveying, Out of Sight

Fallen Spruce and DuffThis week I return to my series on surveying.  Two weeks ago we got as far as revealing the basic idea and magical power of triangulation.  This wedding between shape and mathematical proportion transformed human knowledge and literally made all modern science, engineering, geography, architecture and cartography possible.

» Continue Reading.



Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Magic of Surveying

Surveying Tools, 1728Today I begin a series of Dispatches on surveying, one of the greatest and richest interactions between humans and their natural environment, rife with beauties,  drama and challenge.  And magic.

There are many perspectives from which to tell the story of the history of the Adirondacks.  Indeed the numerous Adirondack history books available to the curious reader feature a wide variety of approaches.  Some are essentially chronological in nature; some are cultural; some are political.  I especially enjoy the many historical writings about the region that are thematically organized around the personalities of the unequaled cast of characters whose fates were intertwined with the Adirondack Mountains.  From To Charles Herreshoff to John Brown to Ned Buntline to Thomas Clark Durant the variety of people and their various enterprises is remarkable.
» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Digitizing the Adirondack Backcountry

At times, it seems as if the entire world is going digital. The Digital Revolution is in full swing, ubiquitously deploying its combined forces of computers, tablets, smart phones, Internet, Wi-Fi, etc., penetrating every aspect of our modern lives. Its newest weaponry, Facebook, Twitter and numerous other social media websites continually distract us from the real world, whiling away the moments of our lives.

Luckily, there are still a few refuges from the constant information bombardment of the 21st Century. The Adirondack backcountry is one such place, where the Information Age has only a small footprint in the form of handheld GPS, an intermittently functioning cellphone or a personal locator beacon. Here the backcountry exists much as it did long before digital gadgetry took up arms against our sanity.

Unfortunately, this may not last for long though. That is, not if Google Trekker and its co-conspirators have anything to say about it.
» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

APA: Land Classification, Mirror Lake, GIS, Invasives

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting at its Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY on Thursday, October 11 and Friday, October 12, 2012. Included on the agenda are set-back and height variances for a project on Mirror Lake, an extension of the Barton Mine wind power tower weather monitoring stations in Johnsburg, an update on the status of Asian clam eradication permits, a discussion of the vulnerability of at-risk species to climate change, and informational presentations on the state land classification process, the use of GIS for recording public trail use data, and invasive species in Lake George and Lake Champlain.
» Continue Reading.



Saturday, April 7, 2012

Books: Johnsburg History Echoes in these Mountains

Glenn L. Pearsall’s Echoes in these Mountains, is subtitled “Historic Sites and Stories Disappearing in Johnsburg, an Adirondack Community,” but thanks to Pearsall, a tireless advocate for local history, those historic sites and stories are being remembered.

The geography of Johnsburg, the largest township in New York State, is central to Echoes in these Mountains. The book is arranged in chapters highlighting various historic sites, all with handy maps to help locate them on the landscape. That approach – locating historical stories around town on the landscape – is part of what drives Pearsall’s personal exploration of his town’s history, and what led to the answer to an interesting historical question. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Adirondack Maps: Legislative Redistricting

It amazes me how cartographers continue to develop new ways to visualize spatial information. One example I thought might be of interest to Almanack readers is a website allowing the user to explore maps of New York’s new legislative redistricting, finalized in March 2012.

The website, hosted by the CUNY Center for Urban Research, gives users three ways to compare old and new legislative maps: side-by side, overlay or slider. My favorite was the overlay tool, but each has its advantage depending on what you want to get from the map comparison. » Continue Reading.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Adirondack Mapping: Parts But Little Known

The Adirondacks have long been a bit of a blank spot on maps. From the time Jacques Cartier first glimpsed the Adirondack Mountains from Montreal in 1535 until the mid 1700s (long after coastal and more populous areas were mapped in great detail), the remote and mountainous Adirondack region was represented only by terse descriptions such as “This Country by reason of Mountains, Swamps & drowned Lands is impassable & uninhabited,” or “Parts but little known.” But Adirondack history is full of explorers, surveyors and cartographers who underwent great risk and hardship in order to fill in these blanks.

By 1900, thanks to the work of men such as Verplanck Colvin, the basic geography of the park was well-known. The beloved 7.5 minute USGS topographic quads we are all so familiar with were the culmination of this effort, and they have undergone only slight revisions over the last hundred years or so. But an interesting thing has happened in the last 30 years with the rise of computers and their ability to overlay map layers in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Maps and the way people use them have changed radically.

People today are not satisfied with paper maps that merely portray the geographic arrangement of features; they expect maps to be full-blown search engines where they can explore the virtual landscape and then connect instantly to information about map features. Prospective visitors don’t want to just see where a hotel is, they want to click on it and get information about room availability, prices and contact information. Hikers don’t just want the location of a trail, they want to know its difficulty, its condition or how much use it gets.

With all these new expectations, the Adirondacks once again lag behind more populous areas where the work of connecting geographic features to attribute information has advanced further. So, while perhaps not quite as risky (thankfully) or romantic as it once was, there are still many people working to improve the quality and quantity of spatial data and produce ever better maps of the Adirondacks.

Thanks to the proliferation of inexpensive GPS units and free web-based GIS applications such as Google Earth, members of the general public are now active participants in both data collection and map production.

If cartography is the art of producing a map, anyone who has printed out GoogleMap directions is an amateur cartographer! For specialists such as myself, this has been a paradigm shift that has changed our jobs radically. We now must think not only of how to manage the incredible amounts of spatial data being created, but also how best to communicate that information to the public. To conclude my first post, I’d like to highlight one elegant example of how modern technology can communicate spatial information in new and exciting ways.

John Barge, GIS specialist for the Adirondack Park Agency, has made many map resources available on the APA’s GIS page. I encourage you to browse through them all, but I’d like to feature a particular resource John has produced– a downloadable .kmz file that superimposes historic bird’s eye maps of several Adirondack communities onto the virtual landscape of Google Earth. A quick video tutorial can be found here.

I look forward to future posts on Adirondack spatial matters, and to reading your comments!

PS: Thanks much to the Almanack for having me!

Illustration: Richard William Seal. “New and Accurate Map of the Present War in North America, 1757″.



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cool Map: Lakes and Ponds in Forest Preserve

An Almanack reader who likes maps called our attention to one posted last week in the Adirondack Park Agency’s online map room. It shows lakes and ponds encompassed entirely by Forest Preserve. (Click here to see larger map.)

The tally of those lakes and ponds is 1,838, and a series of clickable sidebar charts sorts them by variables. The largest? Lake Lila, at 1,461 acres. (Little Tupper Lake at 2,305 acres would’ve been the largest but there are a couple of small private inholdings. Follensby Pond, at 1,000 acres, would become third largest when New York State acquires it.) But most Forest Preserve waters are little: 1,728 of them are between 1 and 250 acres in surface area. A pie chart shows that there are almost exactly the same number of lakes fully within Wild Forest (862) as Wilderness (860) state land classifications. » Continue Reading.