Why we love it
You don't have to look at the legend to understand what this map conveys. It depicts 28,000 miles of previously unmapped waterways and critical habitat in South Central Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Basin. Using gray scale and opacity to mask everything outside the study area, the map provides a clear delineation of the watershed boundaries. In contrast, vibrant colors within the basin successfully draw the reader in and keep the focus on the intended theme of the map.
Why it works
The Matanuska-Susitna Basin has a complex geography and dense hydrologic network of streams, rivers, and lakes. This map works by employing important techniques to present a striking view of the entire area. The map author uses color masterfully to highlight and accentuate the most important elements. Additionally, only the most critical labels are provided for reference. As an observer, we get a clear and unimpeded representation of the Mat-Su Basin and its conglomerate of hydrologic features.
Jim is a spatial analyst with the Alaska Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.