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Posted: August 28, 2017

Google to create virtual version of popular trail

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has taken the first step towards sharing the vistas of the Dutch Creek Hoodoos with the world.

In partnership with Google, the non-profit land trust has mapped the Dutch Creek Hoodoos Conservation Area using the tech company’s backpack-mounted 360-degree camera system.

Located near Fairmont Hot Springs, the Dutch Creek Hoodoos Conservation Area features unusual cliff formations and is a popular hiking destination in the East Kootenay.

Google Trekker is an off-road version of Google Street view. Trekker allows the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to create a panoramic virtual tour of its conservation areas. NCC has already documented and shared virtual hikes from 18 sites across the country, which are now accessible to anyone online.

Google Trekker offers an exciting opportunity to connect Canadians to nature. Especially for those sites that are difficult to access, the technology opens up natural spaces to anyone who may not be able to visit in person.

To gather the footage, NCC stewardship coordinator Richard Klafki headed out onto the Dutch Creek Hoodoos trail carrying the Google Trekker (pictured above), a 29-kg (50-pound) backpack with a camera system on it. The camera, a green orb about the size of a soccer ball, perches above the head of the wearer as its 15 lenses snap an image every 2.5 seconds.

The collected images are sent to Google to be stitched together into the 360-degree trail view that can be navigated as a virtual trek online. Processing the images into a virtual tour can take up to a year.

“We hope these images will inspire people in Canada and around the world to connect with some of our most beautiful and diverse landscapes,” said Klafki. “For those of us who have the privilege of visiting the hoodoos in person, it’s a reminder of how lucky we are to have such stunning and ecologically-significant landscapes right in our backyard. We are excited and proud to partner with Google and bring the Dutch Creek Hoodoos to a wider audience.”

Although the Dutch Creek Hoodoos trail won’t be immediately available online, there are still plenty of NCC conservation lands across Canada to discover via Google Trekker. In B.C., the Trekker has already visited Chase Woods in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, and Darkwoods in the South Selkirk Mountains, near Nelson.

Find more information about the Dutch Creek Hoodoos

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation’s leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.8 million acres (1.1 million hectares) coast to coast. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has helped to conserve almost one million acres (400,000 hectares) in British Columbia.

Nature Conservancy of Canada

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