For Immediate Release

Google Maps Tours Oregon's Threatened Public Lands

Conservationist Take Google Street View Technology Into Western Oregon's BLM Forests



Arran Robertson

Susan Cadrecha

PORTLAND, Ore -- September 10th, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore – Today, Oregon Wild announced the publication of new trail images in Street View in Google Maps, through the Trekker Loan Program. These new panoramic images were collected by staff and volunteers earlier this summer using the Google Trekker equipment. The Trekker, a 45 lb backpack with a camera array that can capture imagery in 360 degrees, functions much like a portable Google Street View car. Google loaned the Trekker to Oregon Wild, who took it into some of the most remote locations in Western Oregon, offering a view of some of the state’s more obscure national public lands.


“We wanted to highlight lesser known places in Oregon that are just as spectacular – if not more so – than popular trails, and that are under pressure from logging, or other development, ” said Sean Stevens, Executive Director for Oregon Wild. “These are some of the wildest places we have left in Oregon. The more people are exposed to them, the more likely they are to step up and support protecting them for future generations.”


“Oregon is famous for its gorgeous views and landscapes,” said Deanna Yick, Google Maps Street View Program Manager. “Now, these places are available for everyone around the world to see right in Google Maps, and be inspired to visit in person. Loaning our Trekker equipment to Oregon Wild was the best way to create a virtual experience of these remarkable places."


Many of the locations Oregon Wild visited have either been directly threatened by new roads and logging, or by nearby logging proposals that affect them. For example, the featured Fall Creek area running through Salem District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands borders private timberlands that are routinely clearcut. The images captured by the Google Trekker showcase a hike through a beautiful forest, but it is an island of old growth in a sea of industrial tree plantations. As a result, animals throughout Fall Creek, like mountain beavers and slender salamanders, are cut off from other populations.


“People have been working for decades to keep special places like these protected. Right now, many of these wild areas could be negatively impacted by drastic management changes currently being considered by the BLM,” said Chandra LeGue, Oregon Wild’s Western Oregon Field Coordinator. “Losing our remaining old­growth forests, and the salmon and wildlife that call them home, would be tragic not only for the environment, but also for Americans who treasure our natural heritage.”


The Crabtree Valley, which features 500 year old Douglas­fir, hemlock, and cedar trees, sits amidst a spider­web of logging roads and at one time was private timberland slated to be logged. After numerous efforts by Oregon Wild and others in the 1970s to protect this area, the property was finally traded to the BLM and designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern for its ancient forests and wet meadows, but it is surrounded by clear­cut forestlands.


Green Springs Mountain, another featured route with the Google Trekker, is an important area for native plants and wildlife like Lewis’ Woodpecker, Northern Spotted Owl, and Pacific Fisher. Scientists have urged that the area be protected as an addition to the Cascade­Siskiyou National Monument.

Unfortunately, the BLM continues to pursue plans to create new roads into this sensitive area.


“These special places are natural treasures, both a home for rare plants and animals and scenic gems for humans to enjoy through hiking, camping, fishing, and other activities,” added Stevens. “We hope that our work with Google Trekker will inspire a new generation to get outside and explore them, and to join in working to ensure they remain wild and scenic for generations to come.”