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Using GIS to Explore Sprawl in the Lehigh River Watershed: A tutorial

The following tutorial will help you become familiar with using a GIS map. Read through the directions below and then go to the next page to begin using the map.

Once you click on the link to go to the map, a GIS map will appear. It may take a few seconds for the map to load. The image you will see will be a map of the Lehigh River watershed with the municipalities that are included in the watershed. It will look like the image displayed in Figure 1. Note that the upper right corner of the screen displays the map's layers. See Figure 2 below.


Figure 1.
Figure 2.

Each municipality is identified with a color and a thin black border. Note that the left side of the screen contains a series of tool icons. This is displayed below in Figure 3. The black arrow in Figure 3 points to the legend icon. When you click on the legend icon, the map's legend will appear in the upper right corner of your screen. It will look like the image displayed below in Figure 4. The colors identify the percentage change intervals for each county.


Figure 3. Figure 4.

In order to zoom in on the map and study a specific area, you need to click on the icon directly below the legend icon, as shown in Figure 5. You can also zoom out using the icon to the right of it.

Figure 5. Figure 6. Figure 7.

Another helpful feature of a GIS map is the information icon. See Figure 6. Many GIS maps contain additional information that you may find useful. For example, if you want to know which city or town you are looking at on the map, select the Cities/Town layer by clicking on the circle as shown in Figure 7(be sure to change the legend back to the layers setting). This makes the Cities/Towns layer active. Once the layer is active, click on the information icon and then click on the area that you would like information about. On this map, the Cities/Towns are indicated by black dots.

Figure 8.

Once you click on a specific city or town, an information bar will appear below the map, as indicated by the black arrow in Figure 8. Figure 8 shows the map enlarged to a specific area. You can use the information tool for any layer on the map. Just make sure to return to the layers box and select the layer that you wish to use. It is always a good idea to click on "Refresh Map" when making a new layer active.

Now that you are familiar with using a GIS map, let's use a map to study population trends in the Lehigh River watershed.

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