This Quickstart Guide is designed for experienced users of Google Earth, who may want a little advice on how to set up a “VA Wild Trout Workstation” based on data resources on this website. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Earth, a more comprehensive tutorial — “Google Earth Tutorial (PDF)” — is available for download from the “GIS Resources” menu on any of pages on the “GIS Tools”. You can read or work through that information first (it will walk you through installing Google Earth, and explain basic controls), and then return here to set up the VA data.
For those wanting the “quick start”, here it is:
- Download the KMZ files found on the “VA Resources” menu in the sidebar of this page. These links start with the word, “Data:”. Currently there are 3…
- VA-WV-MD Brookies – this is watershed-level data published by the EBTJV
- VA WTS by Species – this is stream-level data published by the VDGIF which shows the presence of trout in a given wild trout stream segment. There are three layers embedded in the 1 file zip, one for Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout, respectively. Each layer will be in its own kmz file within the zip archive.
- VA WTS by Species – same data and organization as “Species”, but provides 4 layers for Class I, II, III, and IV streams respectively
- Download the NHD.kml file from the USGS data page under GIS Tools… GIS Data… USGS Data (if you haven’t already). This nifty link file (it links Google Earth to the NHD server) gives access to virtually every stream line in the US, plus stream names for any stream that shows up on the 100K topo maps (which is most of the ones big enough to fish). I’ll warn you that this file updates pretty slowly, and can make your screen look like a mess. So I turn it off until I’m zoomed in close, mostly to see stream names.
- Unzip the files and save them somewhere. My web server won’t serve a native KML or KMZ file, so we had to fool it by putting these files into a .zip archive. Make sure you unzip the files somewhere on your hard drive where you can find them easily, and where you won’t want to move them later. I’ve set up a folder in my Documents folder for these things, but it’s up to you. These files were compressed on a Mac, which adds a “resource” folder to the zip package which Windows doesn’t understand. Windows 7 handled them OK, but not very gracefully. It will ask you something like, “Do you want to copy this folder without encryption?” Just say, “yes”, to the data folder, e.g. “va_wts_by_class“, and skip the resource folder, e.g. _Macosx. Confusingly, when Windows is all done uncompressing the file, it will leave you with a folder within a folder. All of the data will be in the second folder. So you’ll need to drill down to actually find the data files. Unless you enjoy drilling down directory trees, you’ll probably want to copy them somewhere else.
- Open Google Earth.
- From the Google Earth application, open the first layer using the File… Open… menu. Google Earth will open the file in the “Temporary Places” folder. If you want to keep this stuff permananently, you may want to move each layer into your own folders in “My Places”. This will also save your configuration settings (see step 6), but it’s up to you.
- Right click on the layer name and select “Properties” if you’re on a Windows machine, or “Get Info” if a Mac. Then, on the “Style, Color” tab, right click on the little color square, and set the color of your choice for this layer. Unfortunately, the base color is the same for all of these files. You can change it when you load it (as I’m explaining here), and if you save the file in “My Places” you’ll only have to do this once. You’ll want to pick a different color for each different layer so you can see them easily.
- When finished, continue for each additional layer until all are loaded.
- Remember to turn on the NHD layer only when you’re zoomed in. Also, it updates slowly, so give it time.