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How to use the Oregon Explorer

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The Oregon Explorer can be accessed by anyone with access to the internet. The Oregon Explorer is organized according to two schemes: topic-based and place-based.

Explore available information within each of 7 comprehensive topic areas (we call these "super topics"): 1) animals and plants; 2) climate, water, and air; 3) coast, ocean, and marine; 4) forestry and agriculture; 5) land use and planning; 6) landscapes and ecosystems; and 7) people and communities.  In an effort to enable many user selected pathways to a desired piece of information, you will find that some topics can be accessed from more than one super topic. For any topic selected, you will want to take notice of the types of information that are available in the header bar. Those topics with the most information will enable you to select from any one of the following formats:

  • articles & stories:  these are articles that have been specifically commissioned and/or formatted for access by Oregon Explorer users.  We believe that our digital library is unique in offering articles and stories as a way to help users understand why a particular topic or issue is important in Oregon.
  • maps & tools: these are resources that have been either developed with our Oregon Explorer partners or identified by our partners as useful in informing natural resource and/or community decisions, whether they are planning or policy-oriented.
  • reports & publications: these are often archived scholarly documents that are harvested from external sources. ScholarsAchive from Oregon State University, and Scholars' Bank from University of Oregon are the two predominant digital repositories that are queried by the Oregon Explorer.
  • data: these include data collections that have been added as an Oregon Explorer resource.  If you are interested in tracking down a particular dataset, such as a GIS data layer, then you will alternatively want to click on the "Data" tab at the top of the Oregon Explorer web page and click on the Oregon Spatial Data Library graphic and search from that site.
  • photos & videos: these are resources that include photo collections, Oregon Explorer commissioned videos, as well as those that have been presented by others for your selected topic or place of interest.
  • more: this information bin includes everything else.  Click on this format to access organizational links, service centers, multi-format information clearinghouses, and other resources related to your selected topic or place of interest.

Then through a geographic interface, Oregon Explorer information can be accessed for any place within Oregon. Choose a location with a right click of your mouse, and you will soon find the nested geographies for your place of interest. Click on any of these geographies and information will be organized and made accessible to you.

When it was first launched in June 2007, the Oregon Explorer information was organized into five basin portals, seven topic portals, and two data portals.  A user survey conducted in 2014 revealed that this portal framework was limiting and unsustainable.  Users would use a particular portal, and never realize that there was a vast amount of content and data for other topics or places in Oregon.  In a desire to be more comprehensive, integrative, and technologically responsive, the Oregon Explorer was redesigned in June 2015 with a move away from the portal-based framework.

Having problems getting tools to run?

Some of our tools are built with Silverlight and require the Silverlight plugin in a browser to work.  Browser support for plugin based applications has been decreasing. If you have access to Internet Explorer, these Silverlight tools should continue to work. 

If you want to use Firefox, there is an extended release edition that can be used.  Firefox Extended Release.

For Chrome, you can add the IE-On-Chrome extension to continue using the Silverlight version of the tool.

We are migrating all of our tools to cross browser compatible html viewers that will also work on tablets and handheld devices. 

How to use the Oregon Explorer Map Viewer 

The Oregon Explorer Map Viewer is one of our most popular tools. Our thanks to Ryan Johnson who was at StreamWebs, a student stewardship network sponsored by the Oregon State University Extension Service, when he created these informative video tutorials with funds from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.  When you view them, you will notice that both the Oregon Explorer and the Oregon Explorer Map Viewer interfaces are out-of-date and have changed considerably. What has not changed is much of the functionality that Ryan demonstrates.  For this reason, we have decided to keep them accessible until they can be updated.


  1. Oregon Explorer Map Viewer - Oregon Explorer Map Viewer - Part 1: Overview
  2. Oregon Explorer Map Viewer - Oregon Explorer Map Viewer - Part 2: Creating a Custom Map
  3. Oregon Explorer Map Viewer - Oregon Explorer Map Viewer - Part 3: Handy Tools

Oregon Explorer Map Viewer - Part 1: Overview




Oregon Explorer Map Viewer - Part 2: Creating a Custom Map




Oregon Explorer Map Viewer - Part 3: Handy Tools