How to Use the Landscape Explorer Interactive Map Application

Explore past & present landscapes through this intuitive, engaging interface.

Welcome to Landscape Explorer!

This interactive map allows you to explore landscapes across time, shifting between modern and historical imagery with ease. Here's a quick guide on how to use the map application:

Navigating the map

To explore landscapes on the interactive map, you can:

  • Pan and Zoom: Click and drag the map to pan across different landscapes. Use the "+" and "-" buttons located at the top left of the map to zoom in and out to view landscapes at various scales. Your browser may provide some additional instructions on how to zoom in and out using your mouse or trackpad.
  • Search Location: If you have a specific location in mind, simply enter the location's name into the “Search for a location” bar located at the top left of the map. The map will give you options matching your input. Click on the option that closest matches your desired search area and the map will automatically center on your search location.

Switching between historical and modern imagery

The power of this application is how it let's you compare historical and modern imagery of landscapes. It's easy to do:

  1. Use the search or zoom options to locate a location you want to explore.
  2. Find the swipe bar at the center of your screen.
  3. Click and hold the bar.
  4. Swipe left or right to switch between historical and modern imagery.

This feature allows you to see how these landscapes have changed since the mid-20th century, providing an engaging visual experience that shows these changes.

In the example below near Townsend, Montana, you can see the impact of woodland expansion, urbanization, and riparian loss due to the construction of Canyon Ferry Lake.

Sharing Landscape Explorer on social media or email

If you find something interesting on, be sure to share it with your friends, family, and colleagues on social media or via email. Here's how:

Sharing on social media

Locate the share buttons: Look for the share buttons located directly below the map. These are typically represented by icons of various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., and for Landscape Explorer are located at the bottom left of the map viewer.

Choose your platform: Click on the icon of the social media platform that you want to use to share what you've discovered. 

Compose your post: Depending on which platform you are using, you will be redirected to your account on that platform or a popup window connected to your social media account will appear. The system will populate a draft post linking to our website. Here, you can add a personal message about why you're sharing our site.

Post: Once you're happy with your message, click 'Post', 'Share', 'Tweet', or whatever button your platform uses to publish your post.

Sharing via email

There are several options for sharing via email.

  1. Use the email share button: This button is located with the social media icons below the map and looks like an envelope icon. It will open up your default email client and allow you to compose an email through that system. The subject of the email will be a suggested message about our website, and the body of the email will contain a link to the map location you’re currently viewing. Add your intended recipients in the address bar and hit send once you're ready.
  2. Use the link button: The link button is also located near the other social icons. It looks like a chain with two links. Simply click that icon and a popup window with a url specific to the location you want to share will appear. Copy that link and then open up whatever email client you use, compose, and send your email.
  3. Use the Plus/AddThis button: This small, blue button is located with the other social icons. Simply click this button and a menu of sharing options will appear, including common email clients like Gmail, Outlook, AOL Mail, and others. Simply click the icon you want to use, and follow the previous steps to compose and send your email.

Remember, by sharing this website, you're not only spreading the word about, but also allowing others to explore how our landscapes are changing and how we can help conserve our natural heritage. 

Obtain more information about the historical imagery and download GIS data

Landscape Explorer not only lets you view historical and modern landscapes but also allows you to query the map to learn more about the historical imagery. You can also download the map in GIS-ready format data for your own use. Here's how to access this information:

Query a location: Navigate to your location of interest on the map. Simply click on any point within that location to query our database. After clicking, the application will provide you with the following details about the historical imagery of that point:

  • Acquisition Date: This is the date when the historical image was captured
  • Source Imagery: The original source of the historical imagery. If the image is from the USGS, we will provide a link to the USGS archive
  • Download GIS Data: If you're interested in using this historical imagery data in your own projects, we have provided several options for accessing the data on this page. 

Advanced features for enhanced exploration

Landscape Explorer provides some advanced features that allow you to customize your map exploration experience. Here's how to use these features:

  • Full-screen mode: For an immersive exploration experience, you can switch to full-screen mode. Locate and click the 'Full Screen' button, represented by an icon of four arrows pointing outwards in the upper right-hand corner of the map.. To exit full-screen mode, simply press the 'Esc' key on your keyboard, or click the 'Exit Full Screen' button.

Geographic labels On/Off: If you prefer a cleaner map view or want to focus solely on the imagery, you can choose to turn off the geographic labels. Click the ‘Satellite” button in the upper left and then toggle the 'Labels' checkbox to turn geographic labels on or off.

Switching between basemaps

We provide different base maps to cater to your specific needs:

  • Satellite (default): Current landscape imagery from Google Maps.
  • Maps: This provides a road map view, useful for navigation and understanding the built environment.
  • Terrain: This shows physical features like mountains, valleys, water bodies, etc.

To switch between base maps, click on the ‘Map’ and ‘Satellite’ buttons in the upper left corner of the map. The terrain base map is accessed by clicking ‘Map’ and selecting the ‘Terrain’ check box.

Want more? Visit our About/FAQ Page

On the About/FAQ page, you'll find more detailed information about Landscape Explorer and answers to frequently asked questions. This can provide you with a better understanding of the project's goals, history, and the people behind it, as well as further assistance with using the map application.

Access the About the Landscape Explorer & FAQ!

Landscape Explorer was built to promote the conservation of wildlife and landscapes. We value your input and encourage your curiosity. If you don’t find answers to your questions in the  FAQ, feel free to contact us directly.