A local paper in Virginia profiles the new electronic topos the USGS now offers. The program is referred to as US Topo. The article concludes with one individual’s concerns:
While response has been positive in emergency response circles, the man in charge of a set of maps in wide use locally is far from happy, saying that while on-demand maps made by assimilating existing data offer convenience, a complete shift in that direction risks losing the fine details and pinpoint accuracy for which the USGS is known.
Quads are already sub-par for trail use in many cases, said Thomas Kaye, the maps chairman for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. Some trails, such as the Appalachian Trail, are listed on such maps. But groups such as the PATC make specialty maps that show a more useful set of trails for the average hiker. Quads remain perhaps the best way to navigate across unknown country.
Kaye worries that the new maps, which can be updated simply by acquiring new sets of data, will lead to fewer features being routinely updated.
“Essentially, what you’re going to have updated is roads at the end of the day, and maybe some rivers and lakes, but it’s not going to be the USGS quads that we know and have come to trust,” he said.