Trust Our Land: Three cheers for the map |

Trust Our Land: Three cheers for the map

Oliver Skelly
Trust Our Land
Eagle Valley Land Trust’s new web map is live. Mapping tools are an important part of land conservation work.
Courtesy photo

An oft-heard lament from outdoors people and planners of yore is the death of the paper map. Gone is an appreciation for the compass rose, they decry. Digital natives, recalling averse memories of needing to print MapQuest directions or parents bickering over windshield-wide highway maps, nod to their pocket-sized smartphones and scoff in disagreement.

No matter where you stand on the generational map debate, their utility function is evident. Besides helping you get from point A to point B, maps give us insight into our history and present information in visually appealing ways. They assist us in many facets of life from commuting to recreating.

At the Eagle Valley Land Trust, maps are equally central to our work. For example, they guide our wildlife habitat conservation strategy by showing where elk herds reside at different times of year. The ability to pair animal migration corridors with trails data can determine the necessity of seasonal wildlife trail closures. To pitch potential champions and funders on the importance of a conservation project, a good map goes a long way.

Eagle Valley Land Trust recently launched an interactive mapping application for our community to better understand the extent of our work. Users can learn about the history of different properties and how they geographically relate to recreation and wildlife data.

Eagle Valley Land Trust is only just joining the party when it comes to this investment. Across the state, the conservation community has been pouring resources into mapping technologies. CODEX, a new tool from Colorado Natural Heritage Program, allows users to concentrate their conservation efforts on areas with high returns on investment, in terms of ecosystem benefits. The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient Land Mapping Tool does the same but with different inputs.

Support Local Journalism

At the national and global level, quality maps are even more important. Large-scale conservation efforts like 30 by 30 will require cross-jurisdictional efforts — and nothing spurs collaboration quite like gathering ‘round a map-strewn table. Spatial analysis can also assist in the procurement of natural climate solutions. Knowing where forests are susceptible to wildfire and the geography of that area makes fuel reduction projects easier to put together.

When viewed through the lens of history, it’s welcome to see much attention being given to cartography. Our community would likely not exist without an early emphasis on the practice. Maps from the Lewis and Clark Expedition were instrumental in Americans’ understanding of the western portion of the continent. Perhaps the current water situation would not be so dire had John Wesley Powell’s map-based warnings not fallen on deaf ears.

Whether you road trip with paper atlases or Google Maps as your guide, the case for maps is strong. Here at Eagle Valley Land Trust we fancy all sorts of maps, particularly those that help move land conservation forward. Check out Eagle Valley Land Trust’s new map and let us know what you think. Send your thoughts to

Support Local Journalism