Here is an article from the St Paul Pioneer Press talking about a new mobile website to access camping, hiking and other outdoor pursuits.
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_ ... -go-mobile
Minnesota's detailed maps of public lands are now in the palm of your hand.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Friday publicly launched a mobile website that allows users to see where they are in relation to 5.5 million acres of public lands -- state and federal -- open to hiking, camping, hunting, bird-watching and other outdoors pursuits.
In addition, the new website -- mndnr.gov/mobile/compass -- shows the locations of nearly 3,000 public boat launches and canoe routes.
For anglers, lake-depth maps are included. For hunters, boundaries of state wildlife management areas, walk-in access hunting grounds, hunter walking trails and federal waterfowl production areas will be assets. Those camping or hiking can pull up state parks near them, including schedules of upcoming events and driving directions from their current locations.
The website, called Mobile Recreation Compass, can be viewed from any operating system and any device, including desktop computers, tablets and smartphones.
DNR officials tout the website as outdoor enthusiasts' first opportunity to take advantage of the agency's extensive maps, which include satellite photography and infrared images, while in the field.
Users can watch themselves on-screen as dots moving along the terrain, much as they can in Google Maps -- but they'll also be able to see when they're approaching the edge of public lands.
Previously, the DNR's maps were available on its full website, but the information was only useful for trip planning, not use in the field.
The DNR's new website requires at least a 3G cellular phone signal to operate smoothly, and therein lies one of its shortcomings, officials acknowledge.
"If you're out in the sticks and out of Internet coverage, you're going to be in trouble with this website," said Mike Trombrud, a geographic information specialist with the DNR.
It's possible users will be still be able to track their location using a device's GPS system, but that hasn't been widely tested, officials said.
The agency has retreated from mobile apps in the past two years, opting instead for mobile websites that don't require the types of licensing and management demands of apps sold specifically for iPhone and Android operating systems.
For example, the DNR no longer supports its Android LakeFinder app, which gave users off-line access to depth maps and fish survey results.
By comparison, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, in conjunction with private app developer Pocket Ranger, released an app for outdoorsy types this fall. The Official Wisconsin Fish & Wildlife Guide is packed with features, including access to fishing and hunting regulations, the ability to drop GPS waypoints, offline access, and features for social media sharing via Facebook, Twitter and its own social network.
No such features are available directly on Minnesota's Mobile Recreation Compass website.
"It's very slick and useful," Steve Lime, the software developer for the Minnesota DNR who headed up the development of Mobile Recreation Compass, said of Wisconsin's app. He noted, however, that it only uses widely available commercial maps and doesn't clearly show the boundaries of public lands.
Lime said sticking with a mobile website instead of an app allows the DNR to update the software constantly without requiring users to install an update. And the software team plans to add features rapidly. Lime said he hopes the ability to mark locations, known as waypoints, on maps will become available "within weeks." Currently, deer and wolf hunting zones can be overlaid on a map, but not waterfowl or turkey zones. That will likely change, he said. The team also plans to make data available offline, although no timeline for that has been announced.
"We're in daily active development," Lime said. "And we want people to tell us what they think."
Users can send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dave Orrick can be reached at 651-228-5512. Follow him at twitter.com/OutdoorsNow.
A guy posted a comment at the bottom it was certainly not a very good review. Hey Gopher or TJ you guys should use this and let us know what you think.