National Geographic Map

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Area counties to be part of 

National Geographic MapGuide 

which will help promote tourism

Local people can help create MapGuide website

By Ted Pennekamp

 

The Map Department of the National Geographic Society is creating an interactive map of the length of the Mississippi River highlighting destinations and cultural points of interest in all of the counties bordering the river. 

A unique feature of the MapGuide website is that it will be interactive and the development process is driven the people of each county. The development process is underway and will be overseen by the Mississippi River Geotourism Stewardship Council, which has regional committees of people and organizations from each area representing community leaders, historians, river organizations, public lands managers, indigenous peoples, artists and tourism businesses. 

“The map will be one county wide on both sides of the river,” said Jim Dion, the director of Tourism Programs for the Maps Division of National Geographic. “There is much bio and cultural diversity down the Mississippi River and 20 million people on the river.” 

During a geotourism meeting at the Crawford County Administrative Building on Aug. 13, Dion said that tourism is second only to agriculture in the worldwide economy, and that the MapGuide website will have the heart, soul and nature of each county told by the local people. These descriptions will allow for potential visitors to use the MapGuide to build a trip planning itinerary of the places they wish to visit on their vacations. 

Business owners, local historians, community leaders, local residents and visitors will be able to nominate an attraction, natural area, historic site, business, event or local feature as a point of interest to be included on the map, including descriptions and comments about each point of interest that tourists may want to visit. Dion said that it is an opportunity to code brand with National Geographic to tell people from around the world all that your county has to offer. National Geographic is an international brand that people trust and seek out.

National Geographic began taking nominations in February of 2015. “We want to get as many nominations as we can be November,” said Dion, who noted that it is hoped that the MapGuide website will go live by April or May of 2016. The website will be constantly evolving and nominations or updates will be able to be made at any time. There is an approval process for all nominations. Dion said that people can simply log onto the website and follow the specified process to make a nomination. “You will be able to geo-locate yourself on the map,” said Dion, who noted that a business, for example, can pinpoint its location with an icon. “We’re looking for raw data right now.” 

The Mississippi River Geotourism program is a joint effort of the Mississippi River Connections Collaborative (MRCC) and the National Geographic Society. The MRCC is an informal network of local, state, and nonprofit organizations whose mission is to promote the magnificence and diversity of the Mississippi River as a national treasured landscape.

“The MapGuide will celebrate each area’s abundant natural, cultural and historical attributes from the vantage point of the people who live there,” said Dion. 

To make a nomination, people can visit mississippiriver.natgeotourism.com.

The meeting in Prairie du Chien was hosted by Sherry Quamme, the Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commissioner from Crawford County. Quamme can be reached for more information about the MapGuide project at (608) 734-9077 or at squamme@gmail.com

More information can also be found on Facebook at MississippiRiverConnectsUsAll or by contacting Rory Robinson, NPS, at Rory_Robinson@nps.gov, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota.

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