Mapping Streams in the Smokies

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Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s geographic information systems specialist Tom Colson is using state-of-the-art technology to develop a new data model of all the permanent streams in the 800 square-mile park.

Before, most of the information on the park’s streams came from U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps, which only reveal a rough depiction of land features. Now, with high-resolution cameras and aerial laser light-scanning, the stream-mapping project has generated highly accurate digital maps that are revealing more and more about the park’s terrain and particularly, its streams.

Already the digital maps have shown that there is at least double the mileage of streams in the park than originally thought – about 4,000 miles.

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