National Forest map app now available for Android, iOS devices


Thanks to Bob Berwyn’s blog for this one.. here is the link and below is an excerpt:

“This mobile app makes it easier than ever to plan your visit to a national forest or grassland,” U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a press release. “By putting important forest information right at your fingertips, it will encourage more Americans to get outside and explore their forests.”

The PDF Maps Mobile App, developed by Avenza Systems Inc., is available as a free download from iTunes and the Android Play Store. The app 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.

The digital maps are part of USDA’s work toward reaching President Obama’s initiative to create a paperless government. Online customer surveys also showed a desire for more online products and information. 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.

6 thoughts on “National Forest map app now available for Android, iOS devices”

  1. Remember, though, many Forest Service tourist maps are notoriously undependable. There are always more roads out there than are shown on the map. Roads often look connected on the map, but not on the ground. I have an excellent “internal compass” but, when there are no landmarks you can see within the forest, it is easy to get turned around, sometimes. South Carolina was like that. The Forest Service does have some very good base maps, to use for projects.

    My favorite map reading joke —> “Holy contour lines Mapman! We’re in the wrong friggin’ township!”

    • Keep in mind the maps available for this app ‘Forest Maps’ are topographic quads, mostly very old data. Even so, I find this app very useful and geographically accurate.
      And the Forest Visitor Maps, some of which may be available in an app, not this one, are not designed to be road maps, so not all roads are on it. To see the open roads you need to look at the USFS Motor Vehicle Use Maps, and some are available at Avenza PDF Maps app. I use both, often this one works better but it not as flexible as Avenza.

  2. The name of the app is Avenza PDF Maps.

    On the Coconino National Forest, we made our Motor Vehicle Use Maps available for iPhones via the PDF Maps app starting two years ago. This year, we began issuing an updated electronic version of the MVUM map (called a Travel Aid) to include color, topography, motorized and non-motorized trails, and game units.

    It has been an amazing tool. It costs us about $30k to print maps, but less than $500 of employee time to make a georeferenced pdf that can be published on or used with Avenza PDF Maps. Our first year in 2012, we estimate a thousand or so downloads of the map for use on mobile devices. In 2013 we estimate that number is now over 10,000. So, we’ve found this tool can be a huge boon to help us help our visitors better access and enjoy the Forest in compliance with our motor vehicle rules.

    If there were any downside, it is that by dramatically increasing the number of people who now use our MVUM Travel Aid maps to navigate and explore the Forest we have been receiving a constant flow of helpful comments about things that need to be fixed, data problems, etc. This is a good thing too, but does stress staff resources to keep up.

    I feel the use of the Avenza PDF technology has been a major FS success story and one where there is still much more room to grow!


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