Mike McGeehin and Megan Boatright came from the NLT main office yesterday to map Mariton's trails using GPS (Global Positioning Systems). As Mike put it: "By using quality units that tap into multiple satellites, we are able to map the trails with great accuracy. GPS technology wouldn't be possible without government support. They put the satellites into space, and it is a real public service."
At Mariton, we are getting ready to assemble a general brochure that will include a new trail map. I love the map we have now, but with the new technologies, I am excited to see what Mike and Megan come up with. Mike and Megan are GIS Analysts for the Trust and are often called upon to document boundaries, along with man made and natural features when NLT acquires a new property or a conservation easement. The two used a Trimble GeoXT, and a Thales MobileMapper to gather data. Mike explained that these units are much more accurate than recreational units, and allow very accurate mapping. Combined with aerial photographs and other technologies they will be able to go back to their office and create a very detailed, user friendly map.
Yesterday was bone-chiller, and we had to walk all of the trails to get data. (Their data will tell us accurately how many miles of trails we actually have.) Hiking the trails would have been fine, but we stopped along the way often to collect points and "do the dance" for satellite acquisition. I was dressed for the weather, but I admit I got chilled occasionally when the satellites didn't cooperate.
On the other hand, while hiking we got to see two pileated woodpeckers in the woods. We talked about different animal tracks and did tree identification. Best of all, I got to spend a day with two fun folks that are as passionate about their work for the Natural Lands Trust as I am.