A lament often heard by outdoorsmen and planners of yore is the death of the paper map. Finished the appreciation of the rose of the winds, they denounce. Digital natives, recalling unpleasant memories of needing to print out directions from MapQuest or parents bickering over windshield-scale road maps, nod to their handheld smartphones and mock disagree.
No matter where you stand in the generational map debate, their utility function is obvious. In addition to helping you get from point A to point B, maps give us insight into our history and present information in a visually appealing way. They help us in many facets of life, from daily commuting to recreation.
At Eagle Valley Land Trust, maps are also at the heart of our work. For example, they guide our wildlife habitat conservation strategy by showing where elk herds reside at different times of the year. The ability to match animal migration corridors with trail data can determine the need for seasonal wildlife trail closures. To introduce potential champions and funders to the importance of a conservation project, a good map is very useful.
Eagle Valley Land Trust recently launched an interactive mapping application so that our community better understands the scope of our work. Users can learn about the history of different properties and their geographic connection to recreation and wildlife data.
Eagle Valley Land Trust has just joined the party when it comes to this investment. Across the state, the conservation community has invested resources in mapping technologies. MANUSCRIPT, a new tool from the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, allows users to focus their conservation efforts on areas with a high return on investment, in terms of ecosystem benefits. The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient Lands Mapping Tool does the same thing but with different inputs.
Nationally and globally, quality maps are even more important. Large-scale conservation efforts like 30 by 30 will require cross-jurisdictional efforts – and nothing spurs collaboration like gathering around a card-strewn table. Spatial analysis can also aid in the acquisition of natural climate solutions. Knowing where forests are susceptible to wildfires and the geography of that area makes it easier to set up fuel reduction projects.
Seen through the prism of history, it is welcome to see that much attention is paid to cartography. Our community probably wouldn’t exist without an early focus on practice. The maps of the Lewis and Clark Expedition were instrumental in understanding Americans of the western part of the continent. Perhaps the current water situation wouldn’t be so bad if John Wesley Powell’s map warnings did not fall on deaf ears.
Whether you’re road tripping with paper atlases or Google Maps as your guide, the case for maps is strong. At Eagle Valley Land Trust, we love all kinds of maps, especially ones that help advance land conservation. Check out Eagle Valley Land Trust’s new map and let us know what you think. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oliver Skelly is Eagle Valley Land Trust’s Community Conservation Coordinator and can be contacted at email@example.com. To learn more about EVLT’s conservation work, visit EVLT.org.