We use Google EarthTM a lot at the preserves. It serves as a basic Geographic Information System (GIS) and is ideal for us because its use is free. Even the folks at our main office who use professional GIS software have embraced it: they can export boundary data and other information to us in the field using Google Earth-compatible files. In the field we can use a GPS (global positioning system) unit to place waypoints that are visible in Google Earth back in the office. And now we can even use Google Earth on a smartphone so that we can see where we stand in real time in the field with the preserve or easement boundaries and other features showing on an aerial photograph.
But this post is about is how beautiful some of the aerial images are, particularly the abstract patterns of nature and land use. Above is the dendritic pattern of water flowing through a swamp into French Creek at Crow's Nest.
Above is our parking lot, overflow parking, and the trailhead at Crow's Nest surrounded by dormant meadow. Notice also the pattern of tractor tracks from spreading lime in the hay field north of the hedgerow. These photos were taken in April 2010.
Here is the pattern of crop strips and waterways in the farm fields at Crow's Nest, employed here to minimize soil erosion on hilly terrain.