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Geographic information systems (GIS) and related technologies, such as global positioning systems (GPS), are necessary tools for upholding the mandate of the National Park Service to manage parks for future generations.

Maps are a very effective tool for park visitors and managers. They assist in communication between resource managers, the public and the academic community. For example, maps help us visualize where objects of interest are located, such as a stream. Once the stream is located on a map, a resource manager can determine the relationship of identified objects, such as a species of plant, to the stream. Once these features are overlayed on a map or in a geographic information system, the resource manager is able to develop and study different alternative solutions to a question such as, "How will the plant react if the stream is redirected?"

A geographic information system (GIS) consists of computer hardware, software and georeferenced data. Georeferenced data corresponds to a place on the surface of the earth. A GIS is capable of inputting, storing, manipulating, analyzing and outputting georeferenced data. The power of a GIS is its ability to analyze location, features or objects (such as a stream), and feature characteristics (such as water quality, direction of flow), in relation to other locations, features, and their characteristics.

To learn more about GIS and mapping technologies visit:

   What is GIS