George Durkee

George Durkee


I've been a backcountry ranger for the National Park Service for over 40 years. In the last 10 years, I've been part of a group of emergency services professionals from across the country to give people the training and tools to understand and use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) more effectively in their operations, such as search and rescue (SAR) and fire incident mapping. Working with Jeff Tolhurst of the Columbia College Earth Science/GIS Department, we’re developing a series of classroom and online courses to familiarize people with the tools and potential for more widespread use of GIS. These courses will be for anyone who wants to better understand mapping, coordinate systems and where they are on the planet.

Recently, with Columbia College, UC Merced, and county GIS professionals we’ve formed the Yosemite All Hazard GIS advisory group to help the counties and communities in the greater Yosemite area use maps, data, and online sharing apps such as ArcGIS Online to better prepare for fire and other emergencies.

In 2011, our search and rescue workgroup was chosen for the Excellence in Public Safety Award by the National Association of GIS and Public Safety (NAPSG). In July of 2012, Jack Dangermond, President of ESRI, presented us with a Special Achievement Award in GIS.

Short Title: Web Mapping

Fall 2021
Start Date 10/05/2020
End Date 10/30/2022
Section Name: CGEOGR-66-4172
Syllabus Here

ArcGIS Online (AGOL) is an easy to use application that enables the user to connect people, locations, and data using interactive maps. These maps can be instantly shared, either within your organization or to the public. AGOL maps can be used to tell a story of a trip – such as a vacation or hiking trip – or, as is increasingly becoming the case, used in business to analyze resident’s income, similar businesses in an area, or anything else for which government statistics are available. Users can also use simple to build apps to gather data in the field and upload to your map.

AGOL maps are also now the standard for getting emergency information out to the public in the event of road closures or evacuations. They are also used within a command center to give emergency workers up to the minute information on, for instance, a fire’s perimeter, location of responding resources, vulnerable populations who might need help evacuating and other information critical for decision makers.

Whatever your career choice or interest, this is an important class to take for almost any job. You may not have an immediate use for what we cover, but knowing it’s available to bring into your organization will give you a definite advantage now or in the future.


Short Title: ArcGIS: Creating a Basic Map
Term: 2022 Spring
Start Date: 1/24/2022
End Date: 2/19/2022
Section Name:CGEOGR-63-4272
This class will show students the basics of using mapping software, ArcGIS Pro, to create, edit, and print a map. This is a great way for students or those already in a profession to become familiar with the basics of ArcGIS in a quick and easy course.
NOTE: 1/20/2022. This class is being updated to use ArcGIS Pro, which is a little more processor intensive. If your machine can't run Pro or you can't get on campus to use computers in the GIS Lab in Fir 1, I can make the previous material for ArcGIS 10.x available for lessons.


Short Title: Introduction to GIS Incident Mapping
Term: 2022 Spring
Start Date: 2/28/2022
End Date: 3/26/2022
Section Name:CGEOGR-61-4410

Students who take this course will learn GIS skills and apply them in basic Incident Mapping. This year we’ll be using ArcGIS Pro and will cover both Search and Rescue (SAR) and Fire incidents. Students will learn incident symbology, data standards and organization, map products, and responsibilities of a GIS Specialist during these incidents. Additionally, students will utilize GPS data that they have collected, convert them to shapefiles, and create a map for each type of incident. Each map will be based on actual incidents. This course includes hands-on experience in incident mapping and data organization.

Although many students might not ever work in emergency incident mapping, the skills you learn are transferrable to all aspects of a GIS workflow: Imagine a geospatial problem, gather data to illustrate that problem and suggest solutions, produce a first draft, decide on layout and symbology targeted to your audience, produce a final map.


With Vanessa Glyn-Linaris, I am co-author of Using GIS in Wildland Search and Rescue. Although written for SAR, it is actually an excellent primer for anyone wanting to better understand the practical side of GIS, coordinate systems, using a GPS and mapping solutions.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about any of my classes. It’s best to write me at: to be sure I get the email in a timely way.