Tuesday, August 3, 2010

DEC Expands Online Google Earth Offerings

Outdoor enthusiasts have a new tool to help plan their trip to visit any of the 2,500 miles of recreational trails throughout New York, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials have announced. DEC’s Mapping Gateway has been expanded with information that enables the public to use Google Earth and other mapping tools to find trails and learn more about the state lands that surround them.

DEC’s Mapping Gateway combines existing web mapping applications and map collections with new offerings, such as a full-featured, interactive data inventory and map viewer.

DEC continues to expand the availability of “Virtual Globe” data (http://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/42978.html) to provide a variety of interactive aerial map representations using virtual globe software such as Google Earth. In addition, some data has been incorporated into Google Maps – which does not require any software downloads – to provide an even more accessible way for people to obtain DEC’s information.

The Mapping Gateway now includes information about 2,446 miles of recreational trails that DEC manages, including:

* Hiking Trails.
* Cross-Country Ski Trails.
* Horse Trails.
* Trails open to motor vehicle use by people with “Motorized Access Program for People With Disabilities” (MAPPWD) permits.
* Mountain Bike Trails.
* Snowmobile Trails.

In addition to the trail information, visitors can click on the trail and find out the location, features and regional contact information for the forest, wildlife management area, or other state land on which the trail is located. DEC advises the public to check with the regional office covering the destination being visited to make sure trails and roads are open and if any advisories are in effect.

The new features announced today are in addition to Mapping Gateway enhancements rolled out last year for fishing, boating, bird watching and more. Other map offerings that can be used with Google Earth include the locations of ecological zones, brownfields, dams, and bulk storage facilities.

Instructions are available on the DEC website for those needing information about how to download and use the Google Earth software. By using Google and leveraging existing technology that many people are already familiar with, DEC is able to reduce software development costs. In addition, the available data is compatible with other virtual globe software like ArcGIS Explorer and NASA’s WorldWind, enabling the public to use the data in many different contexts.

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