CORVALLIS - Years of collaboration between geographers at Oregon State University and cartographers in private industry are now producing some of the most revealing and informative maps of Oregon and other states ever available to travelers, sportsmen or other recreational enthusiasts.
One of the most recent examples of this state-of-the-art mapmaking is the Oregon Road and Recreation Atlas, a 112-page atlas that combines landscape imagery with extensive recreation detail on campgrounds, forests, the locations of public and private land, parks and much other information.
"To gain a real feel for the topographic features of Oregon and useful information for travel or recreation, this is probably the best travel atlas ever put on the market," said Jon Kimerling, a professor of geography and world leader in the emerging field of geographic information science.
The new atlas is also a good example of useful products of considerable value to the public that can emerge from the collaboration between university researchers and private industry, Kimerling said.
The new Oregon map is published by Benchmark Maps, a Medford, Ore., firm. It costs $19.95, is available in many Oregon bookstores, or can be ordered by contacting them at (541) 772-3989.
"We've worked with this company for seven years now to help take them from all-manual to all-digital cartography, which allows production of some of the highest quality maps in the world," Kimerling said. "The map-making concepts that resulted from this effort recently won a 'best of show' annual award from the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping."
The digital techniques of computer cartography, Kimerling said, allow multiple overlays of different types of information from many sources to create whatever image serves the purpose of the user. In this case, that means providing not only an accurate road and travel guide, but also using shading to provide a clear image of the terrain, elevation and landforms.
In another section of the atlas oriented specifically to the needs of tourists and outdoor recreationists, detailed maps are combined with data about campsites, boating and fishing information, parks, RV accommodations, historic sites, museums, natural wonders and other attractions. Climate charts, temperature and precipitation data are also provided for each local area.
Only three other states besides Oregon have atlases of this type produced for them, Kimerling said, although the company is now working on one for Washington and others will follow in the future.