TRR photo by David Hulse

What new river maps will & won’t do

NARROWSBURG, NY — After a lengthy debate over an apparent change in the landward boundary of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River corridor in a prior mapping project, members of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) had few questions after viewing a presentation outlining a new National Park Service (NPS) global information systems (GIS) project.

Dr. Claire Jantz of Shippensburg University’s Center for Land Use Sustainability handled the preview of Shippensburg’s five-year contract with the NPS, and her opening remarks probably sidetracked most debate. The multi-layered GIS map they will create over the “next couple years” will not be developing “survey-quality data.”

Since the original corridor boundary was created without a ground survey and an arbitrary size of some 55,000 acres was published in the river management plan, no one was quite sure what kind of controversy would be stirred up if new mapping determined a new and different boundary.

The project’s stated goal over the contract period is to create and implement a map, with limited web availability. That map would be a “spatial decision support tool in support of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River substantial conformance and project review mandate and aid in resource stewardship activities in the region.”

As in the Google maps familiar to most people, GIS involves placing various, coordinated data in layers, which can be merged or sorted depending on what the viewer wants to see. The possibility of dozens of layers exists, from common ones like highways, water bodies and municipal boundaries, to county tax maps, flood plains, wetlands, public lands, topography, archaeological sites and ground cover—the list is as broad as the availability of data. The first objective will involve sorting through existing data and what is to be included.

The second goal is to put all that in a web-mapping software program and create a prototype. A big concern is keeping the map compliant with regularly changing web-server software. Jantz said the project began in October and has already seen one web software change. She hopes to “roll out” the map in about one year

The third objective implements actual usage and training materials for those using it. The fourth objective is devoted to maintenance and update of data. County tax maps are updated at different intervals, requiring regular maintenance of the map.

Carla Hahn, who is working with the contractors for NPS, said that the park service will be seeking funding to maintain the map at the expiration of the Shippensburg contract.

She said access to the map will be limited. That could change, but NPS is currently limiting the map to 25 server places, which is just about enough to allow all the needed outlets for UDC and various governments.


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