Thursday, March 24, 2011

GPS Units Available for Checkout at Refuge HQ

By Becky Goodman

Have you ever hiked the trails out at Hagerman and gotten turned around? Have you driven the pad roads and gotten confused? It happens all the time. People get so excited about seeing the next bird, animal, flora or fauna that they forget to pay attention to where they are and where they should be going.

Hagerman now has four GPS receiver units that can be checked out from the Refuge Headquarters. Two of these GPS receiver units are pre-loaded with four of the hiking trails that are available for the public to enjoy at the Refuge. You can page through the contents to determine whether the trails are loaded on the unit you plan to use.

While the Refuge staff has installed more signage on the trails and roads to make it easier to traverse Hagerman, it’s a great idea to check out one of the new GPS units to help you explore the Refuge safely.

Brief instructions on how to use them are included in the checkout, but how do they work? These devices provide their users with information about location, distance, direction, tracking and routes. The GPS receivers use a process called trilateration. The receiver locks signals with at least four different satellites orbiting the Earth, and based on the time it takes the signals to reach the different satellites, a calculation is made about the location of the GPS unit. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that the GPS receiver has an “eye to the sky” the majority of the time it’s in use.

When using a GPS receiver unit, it is very important to mark the starting point. These marks are called “waypoints” on most GPS systems. The more waypoints marked, the easier it is to retrace the route and to return to the starting point.

Other safety features include recording the distance of a hike or drive, tracking weather forecasts, barometric pressure readings and humidity levels to help avoid storms, and showing the times of sunrise and sunset to assist in planning.

The next time you’re out at Hagerman, check out one of the GPS receiver units. They’re available from the Refuge Office on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Saturdays between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and on Sundays from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. If you’d like to check to see if a unit is available or to reserve one, please call the Refuge office at (903)786-2826.

To find out more information about Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, please visit: To learn about activities, events and programs at the Refuge, please visit

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