Google Earth is just plain cool. I am now able to overlay my site map directly into Google Earth via a personalized image overlay. By doing this I can view all of the site locations relative to everything around it and the underlying satellite photo landmarks. More importantly, I can tilt, pan, and whirl around to see the site from different 3D angles and look out from a building site to see potential views.
The images show topography and view angles as if the hills were bald. So, the Google Earth views appear more wide open than reality since trees will filter the views. The views shown basically represent the “clear cut” view possibilities, and can help hone where to selectively prune and thin to maximize enjoyment of views.
Another nifty feature in the latest Google Earth version 4.3: you can show the sun’s location at any time throughout the day and it will track shadows that show across the topography of the property! To get the latest version, either: a) if you don’t already have Google Earth, then go to www.google.com/earth, or b) if you have an earlier version of Google Earth then open the program, click “Help” at the top, then click “Check for Updates Online” and follow the directions.