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USGS releases free updated digital maps of Montana

US: The USGS has released the latest digital maps of Montana. “We’re trying to make the maps look and feel like the old topo maps you could hold in your hand,” USGS Montana geospatial liason Lance Clampitt told media. “We’ve gone from producing hard-copy maps as digital products to going in the exact opposite direction, producing digital maps that look like hard-copy maps.”

Montana’s last digital update was in 2011, the time before that was 1993. And many places, including the Missoula Public Library’s custom mapmaking service, rely on maps produced in 1968. The new USGS maps feature more complex road classifications, aerial photo overlays, improved terrain shading, military installation boundaries, post offices and cemeteries. Railroad lines have been updated. And the new maps have an app that makes them easy to use on smart phones and tablet computers.

“U.S. Topo (the free web service) pulls data from a Cloud server, but you could download the images as well if you’re out of cell service,” Clampitt said. “If you download to a computer, it’s about 15 megabytes per quad.”

USGS data, along with photo imagery from the U.S. Farm Service Agency’s National Agriculture Imagery Program, provide the baseline map material that gets used by dozens of commercial map makers and guidance services.

Source: USGS