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Department of the Interior

The one with the best map wins

Federal land management agencies in Alaska are required to be competent stewards of national resources. Unfortunately, these agencies must often base their management decisions on information created when President Eisenhower and President Kennedy were in office. The fact is, excluding a few urban areas, most maps for Alaska are based on cartographic information from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and they do not accurately reflect what Alaska really looks like today. Unmapped changes in water bodies, shorelines, glaciers, rivers, vegetation, and human development, amongst others, all affect the accuracy of the information being presented to land managers. This, in turn, influences their ability to make informed decisions when spending tax payer dollars. Often, they are not able to adequately quantify or identify current status of lands in Alaska when asked critical questions about the lands they manage. If they can, it often comes at a great expense to the tax payer, because they often conduct localized projects that address the questions at hand. This means when similar questions are asked elsewhere, the project must be repeated again, and again. How can federal agencies provide for safe recreation, transportation, and protect lives and properties from wildfires, earthquakes, and tsunamis, and effectively prepare strategies and plan for events related to climate change when the information they are given was out of date 40 years ago? Someone once stated “The one with the best map wins.” Well, in Alaska, when it comes to such questions and concerns, that saying could not be more true. When it comes to even average quality maps, such as those common to the Continental US, we lose, hands down. It is time to stop wasting tax payer dollars on ill-informed land management decisions concerning Alaska. It’s time to update Alaska’s base maps.

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Idea No. 4595