The collaborative project EcoWest visualizations seeks to take the best available data on environmental conditions and present them in a regularly updated, shareable, and interactive format.
With its arid lands, vast forests, critical habitats and vital agricultural centers, the American West is one of the most vulnerable regions in the face of climate change. Much of the 19th and 20th century infrastructure designed to convey water, transport goods, and generate energy was built on climactic assumptions that may no longer hold in the near future. Rising temperatures may reduce the winter snowpack that feeds much of the western water system, while prolonged drought has rendered forests more vulnerable to pests and wildfire, and forced a new conversation about agricultural water use. And as populations grow and more westerners settle in or near wilderness areas, human infrastructure is increasingly at risk to wildfires.
EcoWest is an environmental data clearinghouse website site developed by the journalist and consultant Mitch Tobin, under the support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The site offers extensive analysis and resources on western land use, water resources, wildfires, climate change impacts, environmental policy, and public attitudes toward environmental conservation, many of these resources available as Powerpoint and PDF downloads for presentation, teaching, and reference purposes.
The Bill Lane Center for the American West partnered with EcoWest to reimagine how environmental data could be presented online in an interactive, shareable, and regularly updated format. The result of this collaboration is the ongoing series, "EcoWest visualizations," which offer interactive data trackers on several important western environmental topics, with more in development.