Forest Service offering digital maps for mobile devices

2013-11-20T13:04:00Z Forest Service offering digital maps for mobile devicesIndependent Record Helena Independent Record
November 20, 2013 1:04 pm  • 

The U.S. Forest Service now offers access to a variety of visitor maps for people using Android and iOS devices.

“This mobile app makes it easier than ever to plan your visit to a national forest or grassland,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “By putting important forest information right at your fingertips, it will encourage more Americans to get outside and explore their forests.”

The digital maps are part of USDA’s work toward reaching Pres. Barack Obama’s initiative to create a paperless government that also provides the American public with better, more accessible information.

Online customer surveys also indicated a desire for more online products and information, such as maps. The Forest Service is currently working on the first phase of a website redesign, expected to debut early in 2014, which centers on a map-based tool for planning trips onto our nation’s forests, grasslands and other special places.

The PDF Maps Mobile App, developed by Avenza Systems Inc., is available as a free download from iTunes and the Android Play Store. The app provides access to Forest Service maps, such as motor-vehicle-use maps, which are free, while pages from national forest atlases are 99 cents and forest visitor maps are $4.99. Prices are pending for other agency maps.

The maps are geo-referenced with the user’s location appearing as a blue dot. The app works on iPhones (3Gs or newer) and iPads with WiFi+3G. It also works with Android 4 or newer operating systems on devices with at least 1 gigabyte of memory.

Through the app, users can purchase and download professionally created maps that are stored on their devices. They can use the maps based on their location when GPS is available. The maps also will allow users to measure distance and area, find coordinates, open a current view in Google maps, plot place marks, add notes, enter their own data and add photos as attributes. Almost 700 Forest Service maps are available through the app.

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