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Re: [ft-l] FT map updates

This is a little long, but you asked for it :-)

As communicated at the Trail Coordinators meeting - because they will have
the primary responsibility for oversight - the following policy was set up
over the summer for map updates.

The Section Leaders and Chapter Trail Coordinators have the maintenance year
(Oct - April) to work on their sections and check maps.  All Section Leaders
and Chapter Trail Coordinators have been provided with maps for their areas
of responsibility.

All map changes will be submitted by either a Section Leader or Chapter
Trail Coordinator by May of each year for inclusion in the updated maps that
will be available the following Fall.  A simple cover sheet/form was
developed and given to them for submittals.

Any info sent to the FTA office about descrepancies in the maps (and the
office receives many over the course of a year) are to be forwarded to the
appropriate Section Leader for verification.

Temporary and/or critical changes between the yearly map publications should
be communicated to the Footprint and the website - again by the Section
Leader or Chapter Trail Coordinator.  If you will check the FTA website
under trail descriptions, you will see that some Section Leaders are using
the website in this way.  These corrections will then be rolled into the map
updates during the summer if the Section Leader or Chapter Trail Coordinator
so indicates.

Map updates, both to the images and descriptions, will take place over the
summer when little trail maintenance and therefore few changes occur.

Thus, the accuracy of the maps falls primarily on the shoulders of the
people who should know the pieces/parts of the trail the best - the Section
Leaders and Chapter Trail Coordinators.

This year we are runing a little behind schedule with the map updates
because we needed the summer to devolpe these policies and because our
mapping company (GeoPlan) is converting our maps to a format that the FTA
can maintain on a PC.  The conversion should be done by the end of September
 and then the changes that we have been collecting all year can be applied
to them.  Becasue of this delay, I have given the Chapter Trail Coordinators
until the end of September to submit all their changes and they are
trickling in.  This means map updates will probably be out sometime towards
the end of October, depending upon GeoPlan's schedule.

Late this fall or early next year a new map committee will be formed.  It is
my intention that this committee be composed of 1 or 2 representatives of
the various types of trail users - day-hikers, weekend backpackers,
long-distance hikers, trail maintainers, FS planners and mapping people.  We
will look at ways to improve the maps for all the different users of the
trail.  I would think a review of the suggestions we have already received
(such as yours) and perhaps a user survey would be the first items on the
committee's agenda.

The original map committee did an outstanding job of creating, from scratch,
a set of maps that strives to meet all the (sometimes conflicting) needs of
these groups.  Producing and maintaining maps is a very expensive process
and at the time the FTA could only afford one set of maps for all users and
they are by necessity a compromise. It is my hope that with the new mapping
software we can, with the same amount of money and only slightly more
effort, produce slightly different sets of maps for specific needs.  Just to
give one example, the grid that is superimposed on the maps is of section
lines.  This is very valuable for the some Section Leaders and the FS
planners (who, not incidently, underwrote a large portion of the funding for
the maps) but of relatively little value for hikers beyond a vague
approximation of distances.  Many hikers have expressed an interest in
having UTM grids instead.  By developing two different views of the same map
data, we may be able to accomodate both interests.

The FTA Trail Inventory is also an integral part of the mapping process.
During Trail Inventory we not only collect grade, slope and surface
information, but also highly accurate distances, water source locations,
signage, campsite info, trailhead locations and hiker services in towns
close to the trail.  After the inventory for a segment is completed we also
GPS the trail and photograph the major features.  All of this data can be
transfered to the maps, but only if we get the volunteer support to conduct
the inventories in the first place.

If anyone is interested in serving on the new map committee, please contact
me privately. I will need to put together a list of people willing to serve
for confirmation at the January Board of Directors meeting.  Otherwise,
please submit any specific errors that you may find in the maps to the
appropriate Section Leader or Chapter Trail Coordinator or to the FTA

Deb Blick

> Some questions and reflections after using the maps:

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Cc:            Cricket <D_Blick@email.msn.com>, Florida Trail Association <fta@florida-trail.org>, caschiller@hotmail.com