MARQUETTE - A new, free iPhone app offered by the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Trust offers a bird's-eye view of the Upper Peninsula's shorelines, as well as vital information for potential land developers.
"We developed the Shoreviewer to provide a wealth of important information about our Great Lakes coastlines ... it just happens to start with stunning color photography," said partnership Executive Director Carl Lindquist. "Now we're happy to see it has so many other applications including nature tourism and sustainable economic development."
The Great Lake Shoreviewer includes color, digital, oblique-angle GPS-referenced photographs that can be easily accessed via the Internet at www.superiorwatersheds.org. The tool also includes a set of downloadable maps for each photo location, which include wetlands, soils, slope, coastal dunes, topography, true color photography and color infrared photography. Marquette computer programmer Jim Argeropoulos worked with the SWP and Apple to develop the smart phone app.
Originally conceived as a land-use decision tool for local municipalities, township and counties, the Shoreviewer is also being used for a wide variety of applications including regional tourism campaigns, habitat protection efforts and planning kayak trips.
Lindquist said one habitat study conducted using the Shoreviewer centered around the Piping Plover, a threatened species of bird that prefers sandy beaches for nesting. Michigan State University has also used the program as part of a bigger coastal erosion study.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Coastal Management Department also became involved in the Shoreviewer, asking the partnership to include "critical dune areas" Lindquist said, while also providing some funding for the program.
"(Critical dune areas are) dune areas that are susceptible to erosion or other impacts, so that's another map we have on there," he said. "It's useful for documenting a lot of different land use changes."
Original funding for the Shoreviewer was provided through the MDEQ Coastal Management Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The SWP partnered with Applied Ecological Services and photographer Tom Buchkoe to fly and photograph the entire Upper Peninsula Great Lakes coastline including Lake Superior, 612 miles, Lake Michigan, 438 miles, and Lake Huron, 431 miles.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.