March 21, 2003
Skiers at Lonesome Pines Trails in Fort Kent will soon have a brand new map of the ski hill thanks to the efforts of forestry students at the University of Maine at Fort Kent who used state-of-the-art technology to create it.
Nineteen students enrolled in assistant professor Jeff Dubis' forest practices class spent about 20 hours of course time during the fall semester using Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment mapping all the trails, buildings, lift towers, light poles and other features at the facility.
The students, working with Dubis, have since exported the GPS data into the Geographic Information System (GIS) program housed on the UMFK campus and have created a detailed map of the ski facility.
GPS is a worldwide radio-navigation system formed from a group of satellites and their ground stations. The system uses these "man-made stars" as reference points to calculate positions.
GIS technology allows users to take the data collected using GPS equipment and a detailed map.
All but a few details remain to complete a final version of the map that will be delivered to officials at Lonesome Pines later this spring by Dubis.
'The students did an excellent job in collecting the data for this project. The maps that they developed were of professional quality and should be very beneficial to skiers at Lonesome Pines,' said Dubis.
Skiers are not the only beneficiaries of this project, the students who worked at creating the map gained a great deal by being able to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom.
'The hands-on experience of creating the map was very valuable. I enjoyed this project because it allowed us to work at making something that people will use in the future,' said David Steeves, from Stellarton, Nova Scotia.
'The map we created is a great improvement. The old map was hand drawn and not correct. The work we did on GPS has created a much better one. I am pleased to say that I worked on a map that people will use,' said Craig Caron of Fort Kent.
Once complete the map will be used by Lonesome Pines in brochures and on signs at the facility.
For his part, Dubis was impressed with the dedication and quality of his student's work.
'This project was not only an excellent opportunity for the forestry students to become proficient with this very important technology, but it also gave them an opportunity to assist in a project that will be beneficial to the community. Everyone involved in this project should have a feeling of pride when they see their work on Lonesome Pines maps or brochures,' said Dubis.
The mapping of local alpine ski trails is just one of many community-oriented projects undertaken by students and faculty in the UMFK forestry program.