About the OwlsheadGPS Project

The OwlsheadGPS Project created an innovative process for bringing official, government agency OHV route GIS data to ordinary consumer GPS devices and computers. The project represents a breakthrough use of alternative and open source solutions in area long dominated by expensive professional software.

Government agency route data is fine for printing or viewing maps, or for data analysis needs. But typically this data is unusable by ordinary members of the public — including those familiar with GPS devices and computer mapping software.

Therefore, the OwlsheadGPS Project is focused as much on the technology that delivers the route data as it is on the route data itself. The current limited Project Area represents only a pilot program, one that we hope to expand to include designated OHV routes from government agencies all across the State of California.

Why “OwlsheadGPS?”

The mission of the Project is to help guide outdoor visitors safely on the back country roads and trails of our public lands. The name was born out of the tragic death of an eleven-year old boy in the Owlshead Mountains of Death Valley National Park in August 2009. It is believed that he and his mother got lost and stranded while following the inaccurate back country road data that came on their GPS device.

The tragedy inspired Friends of Jawbone to create this online, GPS-ready library of files with the official, legal back country motor vehicle routes in California.

The mission of the OwlsheadGPS Project is to encourage OHV and motor vehicle users to use only the designated roads and trails. Those who do so will:
1. Better protect their own safety by lessening the risks posed by abandoned mines and other hazards.
2. Better protect sensitive natural resources and threatened species such as the desert tortoise.
3. Better protect the future prospects for sustainable motorized recreation on public lands.

Therefore, first, the owl represents knowledge of the designated route system, and the wisdom of using only designated routes. Second, the up arrow is a directional symbol that points the way for outdoor visitors. Thirdly, the GPS tag indicates the Project’s relevance to the use of GPS devices.

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