Alicia Mein, who coordinated the project for the DNR, said a sizable amount of the data on the new maps had been in the agency's computers for quite some time.
"A lot of [the data] was intended for use in other projects," she explained. "Our job was to improve the data, make sure it was up to date, and make sure the attributes we attached to the map's features were accurate. A lot of stuff had to be updated and reviewed."
Programmers at West Virginia University's GIS Technical Center helped to integrate the accumulated information into a coherent final product.
"They have programmers in specialties that agencies like the DNR can't afford, so we turned to them for help," Mein said. "They did a great job and were easy to work with. Really, [the maps are] a compilation of work by a lot of people - biologists, wildlife managers and programmers as well as data and mapping technicians."
Mein said the computerized maps have a decided advantage over paper maps in that they can be updated easily and regularly.
"And new features can be added as they're needed," she said.
New features might come with a bit of a price, though. The maps, as currently designed and configured, represent an enormous amount of computer data, so much in fact that users with dial-up Internet connections might find the maps frustratingly slow to use.
"The maps work best when users have high-speed Internet connections," Shomo said.
"With all the detail we have on the maps, it can take a while for the screens to rewrite themselves. It's also not very friendly for people who use mobile devices, and that's something we need to work on."
Taylor said he looks forward to the day when mobile-device users can access the site as easily as computer users.
"We want this thing to be as user-friendly as possible," he said. "We want people, no matter where they are around the country, to be able to go to these maps and say, 'Wow, look at all the hunting and fishing that's available in West Virginia. We need to go there.'"
The maps can be accessed at the DNR website, www.wvdnr.gov, by clicking on the highlighted "Hunting Map" link in the Hunting section, or the "Fishing Map" link in the Fishing section.
Reach John McCoy at 304-348-1231 or johnmc...@wvgazette.com.