Human-environment interaction has long been a primary theme of geographic thought. Public lands policies, and particularly wilderness designations, significantly shape the natural environment in western states such as Utah. Geographic information science and the Internet are now important parts of the policy-making toolkit, replacing paper maps and potentially leading to more democratization of wilderness and other important, long-term land use decisions. Geographical concepts such as regions are often employed in public land debates. Nongeographers have driven many of these developments. The goal of this research is to demonstrate a simple, low-cost, and accurate geographic information system (GIS) using an open-source approach and freely distributable datasets. The online Utah Wilderness Atlas will provide spatial and descriptive wildlands resource information to a general audience. It is now easier than ever to produce and exchange geospatial data; however, such data can still be difficult to use. Datasets vary in accuracy, source scale, and spatial extent and may be poorly documented. Casual users may not know where to look for the most appropriate or reliable data, and they may not have the skills or the computer software to convert specialized file formats into meaningful maps. The Utah Wilderness Atlas provides maps that can be read with a standard Web browser.
University of Utah;
Atlas; Geography; GIS; Public lands; Utah; Wilderness