OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Improved websites focus on natural resources in Oregon

10/07/2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. –  Oregon’s bountiful natural resources are a boon to the economy and a major benefit to living in the Beaver State. And since 2007, the Oregon Explorer website has helped researchers, educators and interested citizens who want to quickly find information about Oregon's natural resources.  

The website has now been enhanced to provide improved usability and access to information about Oregon’s natural resources. The improved “Oregon Explorer” portal (still located at http://www.oregonexplorer.info), offers a single point of access to a series of Explorer sites with interactive, science-based information about such topics as wetlands, wildlife, land use and important geographic areas in Oregon. The site provides users with integrated access to maps, datasets, photos, stories and documents about natural resources in the state.

Because the Rural Communities Explorer provides data for common demographics like population, income, and employment, users can compare large and small towns in Oregon in a side-by-side, easy-to-read tabular format.

NACSE (Northwest Alliance for Computational Science and Engineering) partnered with OSU Libraries and the Institute for Natural Resources at OSU to incorporate the use of open-source software as the foundation of the newly updated Oregon Explorer. Cherri Pancake, Director of NACSE, explained the importance of this move.  

“Open source means that we are using – and extending – software developed by tens of thousands of programmers around the world,” Pancake said. “Sharing code allows us to leverage each other’s efforts. This not only reduces development costs, but expedites the rate at which each of us can introduce powerful new features.”

The Explorer series of websites includes the Oregon Land Use Explorer, Wildfire Risk Explorer, Wildlife Explorer, Wetlands Explorer, Rural Communities Explorer, Hazards Explorer, Imagery Explorer and sites specific to the Willamette Valley and the Umpqua, North Coast, Deschutes, and Lakes Basins.
Featured on Lakes Basin Explorer and the Deschutes Basin Explorer, the Oregon Watershed Restoration Tool allows users to generate information about financial investments in watershed restoration throughout Oregon and the outcomes of these investments, such as miles of streamside area planted to help shade streams or create habitat, number of barriers (e.g., culverts) removed so that native fish have access to additional stream habitat, and other restoration results.

Karyle Butcher, the Donald and Delpha Campbell University Librarian & OSU Press director, stressed the importance of the enhanced version.

“The changes in the Explorer make it so much easier for faculty, students and Oregonians to discover information about Oregon’s natural resources,” Butcher said. “As an example, the Rural Communities Explorer provides community members with information on the economy, environment and demography of rural and urban communities in Oregon. This type of information gives community members the information they need to chart their future.”

Oregon Explorer has been developed over the last six years with major funding from the Oregon Geospatial Enterprise Office, Meyer Memorial Trust, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and many other partners.

The Oregon Explorer website can be accessed at http://www.oregonexplorer.info.