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Use Several Mapping Sources When Preparing a Conservation Plan

By kevin.erb | 2:59 PM, 08/18/2014

Dean Solomon’s article about Google Earth being an excellent mapping tool for conservation professionals is a reminder to conservation planners how easy it is today to let your fingers, rather than your feet, do the walking when measuring a landowner’s property.

Google Earth’s mobile ap provides a great overview of Wisconsin’s rural landscapes, and users can zoom into recent aerial photographs with fine detail. The more robust desktop application provides drawing tools used to measure or to highlight a particular property feature.
However, it’s important to note that Google Earth doesn’t yet beat the information you’ll get using a professional GIS system. Nor should it be the only source used when calculating cropland and non-cropland areas.

Combing with other maps, such as those from local counties, or from Bing or Google’s map website, will yield more accurate results and give an idea of what the area looks like during different seasons. Viewing historic photos will also help paint a clearer picture of how the land has changed over the years.

Historic air photos (such as those from the 1930's or 1960's) can be invaluable tools to understand how land use has changed over time. Watch for future posts discussing how to access older air photos and use them in your conservation work.

author Kevin Erb is a University of Wisconsin-Extension Specialist
Photo by Google Earth