T&D News 2008 Number 2

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Engineering

GPS Testing and Evaluation Program

The report "Tailoring GPS for the Forest Service: MTDC's Testing and Evaluation Program" (0871–2807–MTDC) discusses the past and future of GPS (global positioning system) technology in the Forest Service.

In 1983, the Washington Office engineering and timber staffs asked the Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC) to investigate potential uses of GPS in resource management. In the early days, GPS equipment was expensive, bulky, and hard to operate. Technology was changing rapidly and MTDC worked with manufacturers to suggest improvements.

Test courses were established across the continental United States and at the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. These courses let MTDC evaluate GPS equipment under various tree canopy conditions that employees could expect to encounter.

Now Forest Service employees rely on GPS for inventory and mapping. Other uses include recording fire boundaries, locations of invasive species, and important features of wildlife habitat, such as nesting trees. MTDC maintains the Forest Service national GPS Web site at http://www.fs.fed.us/database/gps/ and continues to evaluate improved GPS equipment, such as cameras and personal digital assistants, and GPS systems, such as those used by aerial and ATV sprayers.

For additional information on the GPS testing and evaluation program, contact Andy Trent, project leader (phone: 406-329-3912; e-mail: atrent@fs.fed.us).

This image contains two seperate images. The first image is of a GPS receiver in a area with thick canopy. The second image is of a person carrying the receiver.


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