November 2013: The U.S. Forest Service now offers access to a variety of visitor maps for people using Android and iOS devices.
Great news for those of us that love to explore our national forests (like Nantahala and Pisgah) and love our mobile devises! New digital maps are now available via the PDF Maps Mobile App, developed by Avenza Systems. It is available as a free download from iTunes and the Android Play Store. The app (for both phone and tablets) 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.
In areas of national forests and grasslands where Internet connections are unavailable, the app and static maps work well if users download the maps prior to their visit. The apps and maps also will be useful for wildland firefighters.
PDF Maps is a fast and powerful geospatial PDF reader for your Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. It renders maps quickly and features intuitive multi-touch gestures for easy navigation. With PDF Maps, you can download and open saved maps, pan, zoom, use GPS to locate yourself on the map, drop multiple placemarks, add attribute data, and measure area and distance. The easiest way to get maps is to download them directly from the Avenza Map Store.
In geographic areas with Internet availability users will be able to use the products with live data. The interactive map is expected to be available on a limited basis starting in March 2014.
Paper maps are still available for purchase online at the National Forest Store.
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 Forest Service differs from other federal government agencies in how the Forest Visitor map is funded. The Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1938 calls for the sale of maps as the funding mechanism to revise and produce maps for the public. In 1999 the Act was amended to include products available through the web as "geo-referenced data."
100 Years of National Forest Service
"BB"Pinchot, viewing the western North Carolina mountains", c. 1920's , National Forests of North Carolina Photographs, D.H. Ramsey Library, UNC Asheville
In 2011, the National Forest Service celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Weeks Act, which led to the creation of Pisgah National Forest and Nantahala National Forest, along with other national and experimental forests in the East. Why celebrate? The Pisgah and Nantahala Forests now provide more than one million acres of protected land for all of us to enjoy!
The Weeks Act is one of the most successful land conservation efforts in the U.S. The Weeks Act was signed into law in 1911, after a decade-long debate about the role of the federal government in protecting forestlands. The Weeks Act, named after Massachusetts Congressman John Weeks, allowed the use of federal funding to purchase forest land for conservation. The Weeks Act appropriated $9 million to purchase 6 million acres of land in the eastern United States.
The Pisgah National Forest was established in 1916, one of the first national forests in the eastern United States. Some of the forest tracts were among the first purchases by the Forest Service under the Weeks Act of 1911. Pisgah National Forest covers 510,119 acres of mountainous terrain in the southern Appalachian Mountains, including parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Balsam Mountains. Elevations reach over 6,000 feet and include some of the highest mountains in the eastern United States. The forest covers many areas surrounding the city of Asheville, the town of Brevard and land in the French Broad River Valley. It includes Looking Glass Rock, Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, Roan Mountain and Linville Gorge. Visit the Cradle of Forestry to learn more about the birth of Forestry in the United States.
The Nantahala National Forest, established in 1920, is the largest of the four national forests in North Carolina with 531,286 acres. It includes the Nantahala Gorge and River, Whiteside Mountain, Wayah Bald and Wesser Bald. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest features 400-year old trees and Whitewater Falls is the highest falls east of the Rocky Mountains.
More than 800 miles of the Appalachian Trail wind through forests that were purchased under the Weeks Act, and those same forests provide habitat for important species including the brook trout, bald eagle and black bear.
The Weeks Act provided the cooperative relationship with states, tribes and individuals to protect and enhance forests, grasslands and watersheds from fire and other threats. About one-fifth of the nation's clean drinking water has its origins in forests preserved under the Weeks Act.
"The Weeks Act led the way for millions of acres of cut-over, eroded lands to be replanted. Today, those lands are resilient national forests" said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "The Weeks Act established a way for the Forest Service to work across boundaries with a broad array of partners to achieve conservation success. It set the stage for the current approach of working together on challenges such as climate change, water supply and restoration issues."
During the last 100 years, the Weeks Act has led to the creation of 52 national forests in 26 Eastern states, and the addition of 19.7 million acres on national forests and grasslands across 41 states and Puerto Rico.
The National Forests in North Carolina is currently engaged in a collaborative restoration planning process, with partners and the public to identify and prioritize ecological restoration goals for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Restoration efforts in western North Carolina are focused on restoring and maintaining healthy forests and ecosystems that are resilient to existing and future stressors including climate change.