Technology has come a long way since the USGS topo map. While useful tools, these maps often lacked the geographical information necessary for navigating your way around the brownwater. Gazetteers and other atlas maps helped bridge the gap between the needs for these attributes, including points of interest and other outdoor recreation oriented information, and still are a useful tool to adventurists finding there way around SUPERFUND sites via an archaic subway tunnel. The tools of GIS, however, are starting to become more commonplace in our everyday lives. Remember when you looked up the address for the free clinic on Google Maps? Ever wonder how the authorities managed to find your house from that phone call without even asking for your address? When the County SWAT team came busting down your door for not paying your taxes, they used GIS.
Newer software on the market allows for 3D modeling and viewing, especially useful when trying to visualize yourself navigating through an irrgation ditch, or trying to determine the length of an underground culvert at the water treatment plant. Products like Google Earth, Microsoft Live Search, and a recent cool find, Flash Earth, allow you to navigate your favorite effluent right from your desktop.
The Minnesota DNR's Data Deli goes a step further, and is an online GIS interface. You are able to look up everything from BWCAW boundaries to state snowmobile trails, to all of the Aquatic Management Areas, Wildlife Management Areas, and other public lands throughout the state. This is an indispensible tool to any sportsman in the state of Minnesota. There is a plethora of public land available to our citizens, and it is to our advantage to utilize and enjoy these areas.
However you may choose to embrace this technology is totally up to you, but we are just on the cusp of its immersion. New handheld GPS units are now capable of downloading GIS data sets to allow for real-time 3D mapping on their displays. You might not be using one of these, but Chachi over there is, and he's ready to take hold of your stretch of brownwater.
Don't let this happen to you.