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Website Explores Historic NPS Fire Lookout Photos

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avatar Website Explores Historic NPS Fire Lookout Photos
January 24, 2014 09:43AM
A new section has been added to the National Park Service Fire and Aviation website that promises to interest a broad audience, including national park and history enthusiasts and the tech savvy.

Exploring a little-known National Park Service story, the new section is entitled "Panoramic Photographs from National Park Service Lookouts" and focuses a story that began over 75 years ago.

The web page tells the story of a photographic project that took place in the 1930s from lookouts and lookout points at 200 locations in national parks across the country for the purpose of mapmaking for wildfire detection. Many of the 1930s photographs taken by Junior Forester Lester Moe still exist today, though some are still hidden away in national park museums, libraries, and archives. They are immediately recognizable due to their unique format.

National parks are recognizing the significance of the photographs in that they can be compared with present-day photographs to understand change over time. Both Yellowstone and Glacier national parks were very important to the project, as they have pursued repeat photography in the same locations as the 1930s project.

Some of the Yellowstone images have been uploaded to Gigapan®, a website that allows interactive viewing of the image. When present-day repeat photography images are viewed side by side with the 1930s images, viewers obtain a clearer picture of changes related to land cover, topography, and human infrastructure in the parks.

The website compiles stories, history, and imagery and tells the story through the use of interactive elements. In addition, it encourages action by the public to participate as citizen scientists in repeat photography projects, or other related projects such as invasive species monitoring.

The work on the website was completed as a Master’s Capstone project for the Quinnipiac University Interactive Media Program and can be viewed on the NPS Fire and Aviation website at http://www.nps.gov/fire/wildland-fire/learning-center/panoramic-lookout-photographs.cfm.
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