It all started a few years back when a couple friends from college Scott Gallagher a retired Navy jet fighter pilot and Brian Footen a marine biologist got the crazy idea that our rivers and shores deserve the same kind of detailed immersive mapping that Google gives to streets like “Street View”. To solve this problem, they went about building 360-degree cameras with duct tape and bailing wire, built an app and were off evolving the business and technology and providing high end professional mobile mapping services via their company called EarthViews.
Brian’s background working to recover salmon in the Pacific Northwest had always given EarthViews professional GIS mapping services a conservation minded sensibility, and the company moved forward with that ethos even though it did create a duality to EarthViews mission that was sometimes conflicting.
Then COVID stopped the world. The mapping stopped and so did the ability to help connect people to waterways that were being mapped via EarthViews contracts. So, to solve the work stoppage Brian just said one day, “I’m going to go map areas that just need to be mapped because they are facing challenges from climate change and other environmental impacts.” Brian started in his backyard with Puget Sound and set out using EarthViews mobile mapping technology to survey the entire 1,500 miles of nearshore with his kayak! Why? Because Puget Sound is in trouble and the ShoreView maps are a great way to shine a light on the waterway.
This Puget Sound mapping effort was met by the press, public, scientists, conservation agencies and the state legislature with tons of enthusiasm and interest. It was working, Puget Sound conservation challenges were getting more attention as a result of Brian’s mapping effort. To date Brian has mapped over 700 miles of Puget Sound Nearshore and the project is still moving forward in full force.
The success of the Puget Sound Project however got Brian thinking, what other waterways could be helped in this way? After a bit of research learning about the ongoing climate change induced drought in the Western U.S. Brian set out to conduct more conservation minded surveys. He conducted expeditions to the vanishing Great Salt Lake, the dry riverbed of the Rio Grand in New Mexico, the shrinking Lake Powell reservoir and the diminishing clarity of Lake Tahoe.
Everywhere Brian went using ShoreView and RiverView maps to help raise awareness and provide data for stakeholders about the conservation challenges facing endangered waterways was met with the same enthusiasm as the Puget Sound Nearshore Mapping Project.
This conservation minded approach was making a difference and since has taken Brian’s full attention. He now has co-founded and started working as Executive Director of the non-profit EarthViews Conservation Society. With a growing Advisory Board of non-profit and conservation minded experts EarthViews Conservation Society works to advance the preservation and protection of lakes, rivers and waterways by documenting these critical endangered places using imagery and data. EarthViews Conservation Society then uses these data to advocate for waterway protection by partnering with government and tribal entities, non-governmental organizations, public policy leaders, and scientists.