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Your Crook County GIS Department quietly helps the community every day

Whether it's helping first responders get to the scene of an emergency, or allowing families to plan hikes and bike rides, most people don't realize how the Crook County GIS department, makes our county a better place to live.

The Crook County GIS department was started in 2001 by Judge Scott Cooper, who had the vision to see the potential impacts of GIS. What started as a mapping tool for the road department, quickly expanded and was moved to the planning department. Other departments saw how GIS technology could streamline operations, and it soon became a standalone department that interfaced with all of the county's departments and operations.

Your GIS department quietly helps Crook County citizens every day. Ranchers and farmers are able to utilize mapping services to gain a greater perspective of the land they operate, allowing them to better manage grazing and use of their natural resources.

Hunters may not be aware that the maps they use through their GPS or navigation tools are using data provided by your county GIS department. I paid the GIS department to map the route I used to swim the length of the Prineville Reservoir. Without their map, it would have been a much longer swim.

Have you or any of your family members been assisted by the Police Department, Sheriff Department, Fire Department, Search and Rescue or paramedics? If so, they arrived at your location aided by data provided by your county GIS department.

We are also seeing a growing number of local citizens and visitors seeking multi-use trails throughout our county. As the county works to develop these assets, the GIS department not only helps with mapping but has also worked with interns to put together plans for possible trail expansions. These multi use trails are important to improving the quality of life, health and wellness in our community.

Even our local real estate industry leans heavily on data from the GIS department. This data helps them to determine the size of lots, zoning, property boundaries, tax info, proximity to the UGB, and much, much, more. Anyone buying or selling property in Crook County today can quickly get data that isn't available in other rural counties.

All county departments use GIS in some way. Our Community Development to review massive amounts of information, the road department to quickly inventory their vast system of county maintained roads, and even the weed master helping to map out eradication zones.

By having a robust GIS department, we are able to save operational costs across these and other departments.

As we take a comprehensive look at the county's budget and operations, the GIS department helps with our goal of fiscal responsibility. Last year, the GIS department cost $90,000 to operate but generated $120,000 in revenue for the county. The majority of that additional revenue comes from projects that are performed for other jurisdictions.

Judge Cooper's early investment in GIS provides benefits to the private sector and public sector, too. While we are constantly looking for ways to increase revenue, we also work hard to avoid competing with the private sector.

Levi, who heads up our GIS department, is a great example of a Crook County unsung hero.

His hard work and dedication have made this department a shining example of our ability to look to the future and innovate. Levi loves to help, whether you have questions about this article or anything else GIS.

The data that your GIS department develops is accessible free of charge to anyone. Call 541-416-3930 or visit us online (gis.co.crook.or.us) to find information on how to access it.

Crook County's GIS department is known across Oregon as a model of what can be done with GIS. It consistently outperforms counties with larger budgets and more personnel.  With Levi's dedication, we will continue to keep our GIS data on the cutting edge. There are some exciting improvements coming in the near future, in how we distribute our data, so stay tuned.

Seth Crawford is the Crook County Judge. He can be reached at 541-447-6555 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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