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Posts tagged: maps

Early-Season Forecast Shows Rain – Not Snow – Keeping Pacific Northwest Wet

Wind rearranges the early season snowpack on Mount Hood, Oregon. NRCS photo by Spencer Miller.

Wind rearranges the early season snowpack on Mount Hood, Oregon. NRCS photo by Spencer Miller.

Something about January’s water supply forecast confused me. Current condition maps of the Pacific Northwest are a discouraging spread of red dots, meaning the snowpack contains less than half the normal amount of water. But water supply forecasts for the same region predict normal streamflow in the spring and summer. How can that be? Less snow means less snowmelt, right? Well…maybe.

To rise above my simple, linear thinking, I met with Rashawn Tama with USDA’s National Water and Climate Center. Tama, a hydrologist and forecaster for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, produces forecasts for the Columbia River basin. His forecasts are built around prediction models that help transform tables of raw data into meaningful maps and colorful dots. Read more »

Mapping U.S. Agriculture

2012 Ag Census Web Maps tool helps you create a visual overview of data for U.S. farm demographics, economics, crops, and livestock.

2012 Ag Census Web Maps tool helps you create a visual overview of data for U.S. farm demographics, economics, crops, and livestock.

Agricultural data are valuable for analysis, and thanks to the Census of Agriculture and other surveys, NASS has plenty of data available. As a cartographer, however, I obviously prefer to present the data in map form. A map gives anyone a chance to visualize data for multiple geographic areas as a cohesive image, providing a graphic overview of the agricultural phenomena. It also allows map readers to visually compare regions, and discern patterns and relationships in the data across regions, topics, and time.

When it came to the ag census, for each of the past eight editions, NASS produced an atlas of thematic (statistical) maps illustrating various aspects of U.S. agriculture. While great for their time, with the evolution of digital technology, these paper maps are no longer sufficient on their own. The component missing from them is the data behind the maps, so what better way to depict and also convey a myriad of county-level statistics than through a web map application? Read more »

U.S. Forest Service Offers Winter Yurt, Cabin Adventures

The tranquility of winter camping is ideal at the Grizzly Ridge yurt on the Ashley National Forest in Utah. Numerous hiking, biking and off-road trails crisscross the area. (U.S. Forest Service)

The tranquility of winter camping is ideal at the Grizzly Ridge yurt on the Ashley National Forest in Utah. Numerous hiking, biking and off-road trails crisscross the area. (U.S. Forest Service)

While some may close up tents and winterize recreational vehicles this time of year, there are others who look forward to a winter filled with adventures on forests and grasslands. The draw is yurts and historic cabins available to rent that offer a bit of solitude for camping, a dose of adventure on skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles, and a lifetime of memories.

A yurt is a circular tent with canvas walls. There are many different styles and sizes of yurts, but generally each yurt is different in what it offers. Typically, you can expect to provide your own bedding, food, and cooking supplies. Some include beds, tables and chairs. Others have camp stoves and wood burning stoves. Check information on Recreation.gov before making your reservation and committing to a stay. Read more »

Forest, Grasslands Users Now Have Access to Digital Maps

Digital maps available for your smart phone will help visitors find their way around U.S. Forest Service forests and grasslands.

Digital maps available for your smart phone will help visitors find their way around U.S. Forest Service forests and grasslands.

Scaling a mountain or hiking across a meadow is a peaceful, exhilarating exploration – unless you don’t know which fork in the trail to take.

It used to mean taking out a folded map, holding onto it tightly so the wind won’t blow it away or trying to shelter it from raindrops. Now dealing with a map may be faster, easier and more convenient by opening your smart device and using a U.S. Forest Service digital map you downloaded for free or for a nominal fee.

“In many areas of our national forests or grasslands, internet connections are just not available,” said Joan Steber, a cartographer who worked on the digital map project. “The free app and static maps will help because the user downloads the maps to their Apple or Android device before heading to a national forest or grassland.” Read more »