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DNR updates public land quad maps

NAVIGATION — Three updated maps detailing roads, property boundaries, trails, recreation sites, and other information about public lands have been published by the Washington Department of Natural Resources. Names of the maps and the areas they cover are Chewelah, Mount Baker and Mount Adams.

Washington state public lands quadrangle maps are popular with hunters, backcountry hikers and others who use public lands for outdoor recreation. The maps also are used by emergency responders.

Each full-color printed map shows the landscape in a 1:100,000 scale (1 inch equals approximately 1.6 miles) and covers an area of about 1,600 square miles. Featuring shaded relief to indicate terrain, the 26” x 37” maps show highways, roads, trails, water features, wildlife areas, and other key features.

Outdoor recreation enthusiasts can use the maps to locate public lands managed by DNR, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the State Parks and Recreation Commission, as well as lands managed by federal and other public agencies.

The public lands quadrangle maps are part of a series of 50 maps that DNR publishes. The maps are available for $9 each, plus sales tax, for Washington state residents.

The maps can be purchased online

How are we prepping for climate change?

Check out this 50-state tracking tool developed by the Georgetown Climate Center charts state-by-state progress in climate adaptation plans, and shows which ones have hit their goals. California leads the pack, while Maryland and New York don't lag too far behind. 

From Georgetown: Below is a map that highlights the status of state adaptation efforts. Click on a state to view a summary of its progress to date and to access its full profile page. State profile pages include a detailed breakdown of each state's adaptation work and links to local adaptation plans and resources. 

So what about Washington?

We could be doing better. Find out HERE

Super Mario transit maps

Artist Dave Delisle has combined two of my favorite subjects to geek-out on: Transit and old school video games. Yes, someone has finally drawn public transit systems as Super Mario and Mario Kart maps. Would you ever miss a train if you could get a star? Can we do something like this for Spokane? I'm particularly fond of "Mariobart" in San Francisco. Full story HERE.


If All The Ice Melted

National Geographic has quite the disturbing interactive map that shows what 216 feet of sea level rise will do to coastlines around the world:

The maps here show the world as it is now, with only one difference: All the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, raising it 216 feet and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas.


Cruise and Travel: Stay on time and organized with these apps

Travel seems to get more complicated every year. With all the new TSA requirements,  confusing flight options and fares, crowded airports and seasonal weather cancellations, it can be hard to keep up and stay on track.

Fortunately, the list of iPhone and Android applications is constantly expanding. In addition to my preferred air carrier options (Delta, Alaska Airlines, etc.) I depend on certain apps to keep me on time and on the go.

Here is a short list of popular travel apps including a few of my favorites: 

Tripit: (iPhone and Android) This is my personal favorite. Tripit automatically creates an itinerary with flight confirmation numbers, airport terminal gates and hotel addresses. It also syncs to your calendar and you can share your itinerary with friends and family. Basic service is free. I opted to upgrade to the premium service and it's been worth it.

GateGuru: (iPhone and Android) This handy worldwide app provides airport guides and listings for restaurants, shops, shoe shine kiosks, spas, lounges, A.T.M. service and free Wi-Fi.. www.gateguru.com 

FlightStats (iPhone and Android.) FlightStats’ live flight tracking app lets you access realtime status of worldwide flights by flight number, airport or route. The app also updates weather conditions.

Uber: With service available in more than 100 cities, including Spokane, Uber lets you order a car, gives you an arrival estimate and then notifies you by text when you’re car is on its way.  Uber is a no-cash service, using credit cards only.

Kayak: Listing most major airlines, Kayak is my go-to app for searching for flights and fares and allows me to search for cheaper days to travel.

CheckMate for Travel  (iPhone)  CheckMate is a relative new app that allows you to check in to your hotel from your smartphone. You’ll get a call when the room is ready so all you need to do is stop by the desk and pick up your key. 


MyRadar (iPhone and Android )  MyRadar provides realtime weather and radar displays enabling  you to see weather that is coming your way that might impact flights and airline schedules. 


Have you seen a UFO?

If you live in Washington, odds are greater that you have seen a UFO than if you lived in, say, South Dakota. Or even Idaho.

That's according to data compiled by the National UFO Reporting Center, which has tracked sitings of unidentified flying objects for about 50 years, and looked at records going back even farther.

The website Vox.com took the data from NUFORC and cross-referenced it with the Centers for Disease Control data on heavy drinking, as a way to allow for the fact that some people who've had too much to drink might not be the most reliable sources of what they think they see.

Either way, Washington state has the most UFO sitings per capita. Idaho has fewer, which either says something about the residents of the Gem State, or the occupants of UFOs.

Or maybe Washington's tourism agency has a better intergalactic ad campaign than Idaho. 

The appeal of vintage maps



    Recently, going through boxes in the basement, I ran across an old map of the place I once lived. I brought it with me when I moved west, clipping it from a crumbling book that was too far gone to save, intending to frame it one day. But I never did.


    Alone in the room, tracing with the tip of my finger the twists and turns of surprisingly familiar rivers, mountains and geographic boundaries drawn on fine old gilt-edged paper, I could suddenly and distinctly recall the essential elements of my childhood in the South. The the slant of the hot summer sun and the heavy feel of the humid air, the sound of cicadas and Mockingbirds and the heady fragrance of gardenia and jasmine. It was as if I’d stirred the sediment at the bottom of a pond, releasing a wealth of memories only lightly buried. And all this from a piece of illustrated paper.


    In some ways every map is a treasure map. 


    An old map is a moment in history captured on paper. Time passes and people and places change. Rivers are dammed and swallow small towns. War and weather alter the landscape. Political pressures ebb and flow, shifting boundary lines. Governments fail, people rise, and maps are drawn and drawn again.


    There are other maps in other boxes in my basement. Some, like the state map I saved, are markers of another life. Others are souvenirs of places I’ve been or tokens of places I’d like to go. A few have no significance other than the fact that they are beautiful as only a map can be. Elaborately illustrated, beautifully designed, they are time capsules, a link to a place before it became what it is now. 


    Because I am a planner, I am already thinking ahead to the time when my life will shrink to fit a room, maybe two, and what I will carry with me when that time comes. I imagine the walls will be covered by some of my favorite paintings and a photographic timeline of the life I have lived; images of a young couple just married, both of us made beautiful by youth and happiness and love, portraits of the children we cherished and still more portraits of the families our children created. 

    And there will be a map or two, I think. A big world map and another of the United States.


    Maybe I’ll keep a map Paris, too. Why not? I like the idea of finding it again some day, of running my finger over the lines so finely drawn, chasing the memory of my younger self down those beautiful and familiar streets and boulevards, when I am too old or frail to fly.




Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Orienteers invite newbies to Manito Park course

ORIENTEERING — The Eastern Washington Orienteering Club's first event of 2014 is set for Saturday, Feb. 22, at Manito Park (18th and Grand) in Spokane.

This is a great map, compass and exercise activity for the whole family. Using maps and compass, you must find your way to check points around the park.  Top orienteers will run the course.  Others can map it a group problem-solving trek.

Registration starts at 10 a.m. The event starts at noon. 

Cost: $5 for anyone on the beginner course and for members on any course and $7 for nonmembers on advanced courses; $3 for each additional map for a group or family.  

Info: John Harbuck, (208) 263-9894; John Beck, (509) 838-7078, or e-mail beck@gem.gonzaga.edu.

Map shows how climate change impacts your area

Check out these new maps from New Scientist that lets you see see how average temperatures in specific locations all around the world have changed over the past 120 years-ish. All you need to do is enter in your city and county and discover the climate impacts.


How does your city smell?

Kate McLean makes “Sensory maps” of cities, going as far as to develop a map showing what cities smell like. She told FastCoExist: “Smells have stories and connect with us at an emotional level, bringing back memories of locations, events, and people," she says. “Smell maps are designed to provoke a response, to initiate a debate, to encourage people to use their noses, to become more aware of the smells that go to make up our urban environments.”

Check it out HERE.

Now’s the time to map out next year’s hiking adventure

TRAILS — Now's the time to plan next year's major backpacking excursions for more reasons than one.  

Permits need to be secured in some cases, and if the trip is in the West, now's the best time to buy specially designed topos from Green Trails Maps.

The company is offering FREE SHIPPING on map orders through Dec. 15 from its Web Store.  

While they are based on USGS topograhic maps, Green Trails maps are better for hikers because they are enhanced with on-the-ground research to detail trails and trail mileages.

Founded in 1973, Green Trails doesn't cover every place you might want to go.  But the 140 or so topographic recreation map titles the company has chosen to publish cover  the most spectacular mountain, beach desert areas North America, including Washington and Oregon's Cascade Mountains, the Olympic Peninsula, Mount Rainier's Wonderland Trail and western wilderness areas.

Green Trails maps show the most current trail, road, and access information to national forests, national parks, state and local parks, and other public lands in a clear, compact and convenient format and scale.  

Some of the most recently revised Green Trails maps include the Goat Rocks Wilderness, Alpine Lakes/Stevens Pass and Columbia Gorge East.

Orienteers invite families to navigate through Manito Park

View Larger Map

ORIENTEERING — The Eastern Washington Orienteering Club will celebrate haunting season in the sixth annual Vampire O event Saturday (Oct. 26) at Manito Park.

Participants will search for control points by headlamp or flashlight, but they must be constantly on the lookout for "vampires" who can rob them of points and cause them to turn to the dark side themselves.

  • Register starting at 6 p.m.  Mass start at 6:30 p.m.
  • Meet near the parking lot off Grand Avenue at 18th Street.

Bring the family and dress for Halloween fun. 

Orienteering classes, event offered in Spokane

NAVIGATION – A day of orienteering classes and activities geared to novices is set for Sept. 21 to celebrate National Orienteering Week at the Gonzaga  University campus.

Orienteering is a wild-land navigation race in which participants  use a map and a compass to complete a course.

“This is an easy sport to learn, a great team building activity, and ideal for families who enjoy the outdoors,” said John Beck of the Eastern Washington Orienteering Club.

The group is among 61 clubs across the country organizing activities to introduce people to this active sport that requires the mind to be fully engaged.

The free portion of the event runs from 11 a.m.-noon outdoors on the Gonzaga campus.

To get the most out of the day, participants should register with Spokane Parks and Recreation for the Introduction to Orienteering class that begins at 9:30 a.m. and-or the  Orienteering Skills class that starts after the public activity at 1 p.m.

Preregister for the formal classes by Wednesday, Sept. 18.

  • The orienteering classes are listed under “adults: outdoor – hiking.” Preregistration is required for those classes but not for the outdoor event.

Contact: John Beck – (509) 838-7078 or beck@jepson.gonzaga.edu

Climate change gets interactive - and scarier

The Climate Hot Map, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, is a google map displaying climate trouble spots worldwide.

Creators say, "The greatest concentration of global warming indicators on the map is in North America and Europe because that is where most scientific investigation has been done to date. As scientists focus increasingly on fingerprints of global warming in other regions—from Russia to Antarctica and Oceania to South America—the evidence they find will be added to the map."

When you use the map, you can turn the global warming effects on and off to see which places are affected with the boxes above.

Time-lapse video of human impact

This feature is one of the more impressive combinations of cool and scary I've seen in quite some time. These time-lapse satellite photos from the Atlantic Monthly let you create an animated look at the impacts of human activity from 1984 to 2012 on any corner of the globe - and that includes Spokane County. 

It's interesting timing. As reported in the AP last Thursday, the United Nations forecast that the world’s population will increase from 7.2 billion to 8.1 billion in 2025, with most growth in developing countries and more than half in Africa. By 2050, it will reach 9.6 billion.

Check it out HERE.

How fast could you travel in the 1800s?

We're so accustomed to fast travel and instant digital communications that we often forget how long it took to get across the USA. This series of maps shows the evolution of the speed of travel over the years. 

Google mobilizes Street View to map, photograph backcountry trails

TRAIL MAPPING — Soon you'll be able to look intimately at a trail on your computer or smartphone before launching out to hike, bike or ride a horse on it.

Google has begun applying it's Street View technology to the backcountry.

In its first official outing, the Street View team is using the Trekker—a wearable backpack with a camera system on top (see video above)—to traverse the Grand Canyon and capture 360-degree images of the breathtaking natural landscapes.

Google staffers have been hiking with the Trekker to capture portions of the South Rim at Grand Canyon National Park, as well as the famous Bright Angel Trail, and South Kaibab Trail.”

Google said the new imagery would soon be making its way to Google Maps.

See details on the project in this report from the Associated Press. 

Orienteers invite families to navigate through Manito Park

View Larger Map

ORIENTEERING — The Eastern Washington Orienteering Club will celebrate haunting season in the fifth annual Vampire O event Saturday (Oct. 20) at Manito Park.

Participants will search for control points by headlamp or flashlight, but they must be constantly on the lookout for "vampires" who can rob them of points and cause them to turn to the dark side themselves.

  • Register starting at 6 p.m.  Mass start at 6:30 p.m.
  • Meet near the parking lot off Grand Avenue at 18th Street.

Bring the family and dress for Halloween fun. 

Where we rank on smart growth

Pushing east on I-90 from the city, as Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, Post Falls, and Coeur d'Alene form one contiguous metropolitan area, it would appear smart growth is a regional challenge. Too often, development requires residents to drive long distances between jobs and homes and we are simply not maximizing our investments. 

The below graph, courtesy of the Sightline Institute, demonstrates smart growth by northwest city, with Vancouver, B.C. leading the way.




Spokane store closure leaves gap in map availability

NAVIGATION — Getting a map is easier than ever with online services and software.

But getting a good durable map that's specific for your application took a big hit this  month as Northwest Maps — formerly Northwest Map and Travel Book Center — closed its shop in Spokane Valley.

As consumers have shifted to digital mapping sources, owner Steve Mitrovich decided to sell his massive map inventory and shifted to an online- and phone-only business to sell only his local-area atlases and marketing maps.

For years, Spokane was a premier hub for maps, including the U.S. Geological Survey office in the Downtown Post office. That office was closed at the end of 2001 after offering 43 years of service.

Mitrovich, who opened his shop in the mid 1985, stepped up to offer not only 7.5 minute quads for the entire region, but also all of the state public land maps, Canada maps, national park and Forest Service maps, wilderness maps and the travel guides to go with them. 

If Northwest Maps didn't have a map you needed, Mitrovich likely could get it.

I pity people who think an 8 x 11-inch printout with smearable ink or even a GPS unit are satisfactory replacements for the information available to somebody who spreads out and pores over a topographic map.

Meanwhile, Northwest Maps is still offering a free map index service and taking phone orders for its local products  through its website www.nwmaps.com.

  • The Spokane REI store on North Monroe Street sells some  topo quadrangle and recreation maps.
  • Forest Service and state public lands maps can be purchased from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office, 1103 N Fancher Road, (509) 536-1200.
  • USGS maps can be purchased online at the USGS Store.

NW Maps closes its store in Spokane Valley, focusing only on online sales

Northwest Maps, which for the past several years was Spokane's primary option for  buying topo and recreation maps, has shifted to an online- and phone-only business, said owner Steve Mitrovich.

In addition to closing down its Spokane Valley store, the Mitroviches now are only selling their own published atlases and marketing maps for this area. They've sold all their topo and recreational maps to Metsker Maps of Seattle.

Steve Mitrovich said the store closed on July 1. The reason?  Recreational map purchases continued to dwindle and the number of maps and map books sold didn't justify running the business, he said.

The company will take phone orders and orders placed through its website www.nwmaps.com. The business phone number is509 455-6981.

REI still sells some physical topo and recreation maps, Mitrovich said.

As the web has continued to gain online presence, many recreationists are also ordering and printing maps directly from sites such as USGS.gov and the Forest Service online map service.

Forget the app, there’s a map for that

   In the jumble of odds and ends I carry around in my purse, a mix of grocery store receipts, loose change, lipgloss, hairbands and bobby pins, mints, a small leather notebook and a pen, there is an honest-to-goodness map of the world. And I don’t mean the Google Maps app on my iPhone.

   The portable, purse-size Oxford World Atlas was a gift from my daughter, something I asked for last December, when, for once, I had an answer ready when asked what I would like to unwrap on Christmas morning. She bought it, brought it home and put it under the tree and now it is almost always with me.
   I pull out the book often and I am never disappointed. In less time than it would take to type in a keyword and track the tiny virtual map on the tiny screen on my phone, I can check the milage from Tokyo to Mumbai. I can, using the graph, measure the distance in miles or kilometers from one side of Paris to the other. I can daydream and make plans. I can follow along with the BBC or NPR news anchors when they’re talking about a drought, or disaster in some distant part of the world. Or, if I’m in the mood for something closer to home, I can look for unexplored places just a day’s drive from my backyard. And it isn’t all maps. At a glance, I can see what the national flag of Luxembourg or Montenegro looks like. I can find the capital city of the Slovak Republic, the population of the Mariana Islands, a list of the world’s busiest airports, the annual rainfall in Rome and even the average income of residents of Berlin.

   The information in the atlas is random and immediate. No searching for service or wireless. Just as men and women have been doing for centuries, I open a book and find a place that sparks my imagination. I like the satisfactory sound and feel of crisp, glossy, paper when I turn a page or trace my finger along printed highways, railways and rivers. I get swept away by possibilities and before I know it I’m connecting the map-dots of cities and countries. 

   I know a few facts may have changed since the book was updated, in fact, I’m sure of it. The world in always in flux. If I need to confirm the data, I do. But, for the most part, I’m sure of what I see. The socio-economic situations, politics and migratory habits of people are constantly changing but, and I find this immensely comforting, the continents, islands and land masses that make up the physical world as we know it are all still, barring any meteor strikes, volcanic eruptions and other cataclysmic surprises before this goes to print, exactly where they are supposed to be. And thanks to my daughter, I’m happy to say they are right at the bottom of my purse, between yesterday’s to-do list, a white shirt-button and my phone.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Spokesman-Review Home Planet and Treasure Hunting columns and blogs and her CAMera: Travel and Photo blog, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

New district maps available

OLYMPIA — The Washington Redistricting Commission has put the finishing touches on the new maps for congressional and legislative districts.

True, the lines were set by the Legislature months ago, and the commission got them online fairly quickly. But getting everything in a nice map and get it printed on a large format page takes a bit more time.

You can order a free map by clicking here    

Mapping the vote: Partisan strength

This map shows the relative strength of the two parties, based on an analysis of votes in key races in 2008 and 2010:

Obama v. McCain for president
Gregoire v. Rossi for governor (2008)
Murray v. Rossi for Senate (2010)
McMorris Rodgers v. Romeyn (2010)
Mager v. French (2010)

There were several shifts in precincts between the two elections, and results were adjusted to reflect those changes.

For a closer look at the map, click on the PDF file.


Mapping the vote: New Lege districts

Here's a look at the new legislative districts in Spokane County. For a closer look, check out the PDF file. 


Way-back machine

Ever looked carefully at a map of a place where you lived as a kid and realized the area had several interesting natural and historical attractions — all of which were not on your radar when you were a child?   

Fly fishing, map and compass and wetlands on outdoor event schedule

OUTDOOR PROGRAMS — Here's a few outdoor programs to consider catching this week:

Fly fishing – “Match the Hatch Simplified,” free program by Oregon fly-fishing author Dave Hughes, 7 p.m., Wednesday (Feb. 8) at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy, hosted by the Spokane Fly Fishers.

Map and compass – Free seminar on basics of reading a map and applying a compass for navigation, 7 p.m., Thursday (Feb. 9), at REI. Pre-register here to assure a spot.

Wetlands – The Pullman chapter of Ducks Unlimited will hold its annual fund-raising banquet for wetlands conservation on Feb. 12 at the Paradise Creek Brewery in Pullman. Tickets: Joe Ford (509) 872-3030.

Cool new map of the Spokane River

Check out this new map from a volunteer at the Center For Justice. I especially enjoy that it includes borders for the Urban Growth Area. Click here for a larger version. This map is featured on the Spokane River page for the Center For Justice, which features excellent information about the geography, dams, tributaries and more.

Extreme weather events and climate change

This is a great feature from the National Resources Defense Council. It's an interactive map showing all the record weather events from the last year. According to the NRDC, "in 2011, there were at least 2,941 monthly weather records broken by extreme events that struck communities in the US."

The map shows record snowfalls, record rainfalls, record high and low temperatures, and the affected range from disastrous events like floods, droughts and wildfire. While the image is a summary of the year — click here to watch a time-lapse video of 2011's record-busting weather, and to look at detailed summaries of extreme events in your state.

From the NRDC: 2011 has been a year of unparalleled extremes: 14 disastrous weather events in the US so far this year have resulted in over a billion dollars in property damage – an all-time record breaking number – and their estimated $53 billion price tag doesn’t include health costs. As shown recently, in a first-of-its-kind study published in the journal Health Affairs1, when health-related costs of extreme events are calculated, the total tally increases substantially and will likely continue to climb due to climate change. 7 of the 2011 extreme events – a record-high number – are the type expected to worsen due to climate change.

Mapping the vote: The difference 3 months makes

Because several people have asked, we went back to look at the vote totals of the August primary for Spokane mayor, to compare with the current count in the general election.

It's a bit tricky, because the primary featured five candidates — four challengers and incumbent Mary Verner, who finished first with nearly 60 percent of the vote. David Condon finished second with about 33 percent. But she won almost all the precincts.

This map shows the difference between Verner's vote totals in each precinct and the combined totals of all "non-Verner votes", that is, all the challengers on the ballot, the write-ins and the Under Votes that have no one chosen in that race.

Again, Verner won most precincts, but she had some weaknesses where the total of all non-Verner votes was greater than her vote count.

Compare this map with the latest results (above)  where she leads in the city's core on the lower South Hill, but he's leading in most of the surrounding precincts.