Google Street View has allowed us to visit some of the most beautiful and remote places that we may not ordinarily have had the chance to see. The tech company has mapped and photographed places like Midway Atoll, the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon.
Many of the places the Street View team has documented have something in common: they're in need of protection. By raising public awareness of the beauty and uniqueness of these places, Google is helping to spread the need for conservation.
That's also a driving factor behind Google's latest project, bringing Street View to one of the last wild rivers in the western United States, the Yampa River.
The Yampa River runs 250 miles from the mountains in Colorado up through Dinosaur Monument in Utah where it meets up with the Green River. It has been largely unchanged by people, with only two minor dams in its headwaters and no rerouting anywhere. It's also home to four endangered fish species.
The non-profit organization American Rivers put together the conservation project with Google. Through a partnership with outfitter O.A.R.S. and Friends of the Yampa, the team went on a four-day float down the river using Google's Street View Trekker to take panoramic images every few seconds. They captured a 72-mile stretch of the river in images that they stitched together to make a fluid representation of the trip, starting at Deerlodge Park near Craig, Colorado and ending where the river joins the Green River near Vernal, Utah.
The team also wore the Trekker on a few side hikes up to popular overlooks.
The organizers hope that getting more eyes on the wild river will lead to a call for conservation. Drought and increased demand for water have led to more proposals for dams and diversions that would change the Yampa forever.
You can float down the river using the Street View below and then you can write Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and tell him to protect the Yampa.