Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

National Atlas Victim of Austerity

The National Atlas from the US Geological Survey has so much of possible interest to fiction writers that it actually has FOUR entries in the Writer’s Guide to Government Information:

All this is going away on September 30, 2014 the end of the Federal fiscal year, courtesy of budget cuts. From the National Atlas web site:

Announcement – The National Atlas Will Be Removed from Service September 30, 2014

This year we are combining the National Atlas of the United States with The National Map to provide a single source for geospatial and cartographic information. This transformation is taking place to streamline access to information from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Geospatial Program. USGS budget austerity has compelled our organization to prioritize its civilian mapping role and to consolidate its core investments.

Our organization will continue its long history of providing topographic maps and other geographic information by offering a range of scales and layers of geospatial information on its National Map Viewer and through the US Topo product. As a result of the conversion to an integrated single source for geospatial and cartographic information, nationalatlas.gov will be removed from service on September 30, 2014.

We recognize that not having the same access to information about the population, economy, infrastructure, natural resources, environment, government, and history of the Nation, organized for display on national and regional maps, may place a burden on USGS customers. Please take advantage of the remaining eight months to browse and download anything you need from the National Atlas.

We value National Atlas customers and want to make this transition as easy as possible. We have posted more information on the future availability of National Atlas products and services.

Another page provides questions and answers about the future of the National Atlas.

Here are some of the questions that will likely be harder to answer from government information resources after September 30th:

  • What time zone is Dallas located in?
  • Where can I find a map of Indian reservations?
  • What did the Electoral vote map look like in 1860 for Lincoln’s first election?
  • Where are bats found in the United States?
  • Are there forests in Northern Alaska?
  • What is the average rainfall for Los Angeles, California?
  • Where did a major tornado hit in 1955?
  • What was the path of Hurricane ___________?
  • Is there more than one continental divide?
  • Outside of Appalachia, where are America’s coal fields?
  • Where are potentially active volcanoes in California?

Stay tuned for an entry on the National Map and whether it is as useful a tool for writers as the National Atlas is. If you want to complain about the deletion of the National Atlas, I’d go straight to your Senators and Representatives. Only they can put back the money to restore the National Atlas.

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