Publication Title

Journal of Coastal Conservation

Document Type


Department or Program

Environmental Studies

Publication Date



Despite synergistic goals across a wide breadth of fields and modalities, coastal landscape conservation projects that engage the lay public and integrate narratives of place remain elusive. This paper addresses these needs by introducing and evaluating the Wisconsin Geotools, an integrated pair of mobile-and web-based applications that allow users to generate and share spatially defined multimedia observations — including photos, short textual descriptions (or journals), and audio and video clips — of their surrounding bioregional landscapes. We followed a participatory, user-centered design process to develop a mobile application that uses GPS capabilities to geolocate multimedia observations of landscapes and feed them into a web-based application, which displays content through the structure of an interactive story map. The applications were piloted with coastal community user groups in Green Bay (Lake Michigan), Wisconsin, USA. Over 800 observations were recorded by participants in our study area. Results from a user evaluation survey indicate the geotools effectively engaged participants in learning about and exploring their surrounding coastal landscapes. A spatial analysis revealed participants’ affinity for water-related features in landscapes. We close by suggesting a variety of ways in which these tools can support future projects and existing methodologies that are advancing transdisciplinary approaches to engaging the public in coastal conservation.

Copyright Note

This is the author's version of the work. This publication appears in Bates College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution.

Required Publisher's Statement

This is an accepted, pre-copyedit version of an article published in the Journal of Coastal Conservation. The final authenticated version is available online at: