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Online lakeshore map wins national award

March 7, 2007 By Ariane Strombom

An online, interactive Web site that helps decipher the Lakeshore Nature Preserve has won an award that puts the University of Wisconsin–Madison student-driven project at the forefront of map design in the United States.

The award, for “Best Interactive Digital Map” in the professional category in the 2006 American Congress for Survey and Mapping’s Cartography and Geographical Information Systems Map Design Competition, was awarded to the UW-Madison Cartography Lab.

“The success of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve map is a testament to the many long hours and inspired work of the student cartographers and historians who created this map,” says Mark Harrower, a professor in the department of geography who supervised the development of the maps. “Not only did we end up with a great map, but the students got valuable hands-on experience … in order to tell the story of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve like never before.”

The Web site uses more than 325 Web pages and more than 2,400 photographs, video clips and maps to chart the rich history of the Lakeshore Preserve. The map shows the incredible variance of the preserve through diagrams and maps of vegetation, hydrology, soils, topography, past and present historical sites and aerial photos.

“The map, largely built by UW students, won in the ‘professional’ category,” says Harrower. “This [award] shows that UW–Madison is really exploring what the digital revolution means to mapping.”

Alumni donors Eleanor and Peter Blitzer, of Fort Myers, Fla., underwrote the project, which uses a clean, sophisticated interface to make information available to the public about the 300-acre Preserve that stretches more than four miles on the UW–Madison campus. Also, Professor Bill Cronon, the former chair of the Lakeshore Committee and a supervisor for the development of the maps, was central to the project and “it was through his devotion to the Lakeshore Preserve … that this came to be,” says Harrower.