There’s a Map for That

Usgs map

image credit:  USGS

This just in:  The US Geological Service (USGS) has released a fancy new Land Cover Vegetation Map of the United States.  The map geeks have already left to go check that out, but for the rest of you, I'll explain: They've compiled insane amounts of data on 551 categories of ecological systems and detailed exactly what is growing all over this great nation of ours. 

Thanks to their efforts, I now know that a ravine near my house is made up of Mediterranean California Foothill and Lower Montane Riparian Woodland, along with a little California Coastal Redwood Forest, bits of Introduced Upland Vegetation–Treed, some California Coastal Woodland Live Oak and Savanna, and a little  North Pacific Hypermaritime Sitka Spruce Forest. Oh, and a little Introduced Upland Vegetation–Annual Grassland (that may be the softball field next to the ravine.)

This is all very cool (and serves a useful purpose: to track the migration — or lack thereof — of species and ecosystems over time), but what I want to know is:  Where's the iPhone app?  How cool would it be to have your telephone informing you every time you enter a North Pacific Hypermaritime Sitka Spruce Forest?

I've written to USGS to ask where my app's at.  I'll keep you posted.

via Science Daily.


  1. This is fabulous! Last weekend, I took a tour of a disjunct coastal forest in northern Idaho so I’ll have to look for that. It would be helpful to have the GPS coordinates – or am I missing them?

  2. As a certified map geek (no, really I do have certificates to that affect around here somewhere !), I already use six counties-worth of this data for analysis at the office. But it’s a work of art on a national scale, isn’t it ?

    And if USGS could create an app for that, I’d be first in line to buy it !

  3. Yep, map geek here…I came back to read your post after looking up my old home in Rio Dell. But then, I’m a Garden Rant geek, too!

  4. This is really neat. Though seeing how much logging activity has happened in the mountains near me is highly disturbing. Not being able to see it from the road does not mean it doesn’t exist. Many “recently disturbed or modified” areas.

  5. All my neighborhood says is “forest and woodland system” and “human use area,” both of which are self-evident. Maybe they haven’t gotten detailed on the Austin map yet.

  6. Cool! Even cooler is that our prairie restoration has been labeled as a Grasslands System amidst a sea of “human use” (corn and soybean cropland).

  7. Another “ooh way cool” person here. And I can now justify popping on on garden rant on work computer becasue this is something I can really use. I just love maps, thanks to a civil engineering/surveyor father who taught me how to read and use maps, almost a lost art with the GPS systems in cars. Which leads me to my own personal little rant on those. Great in cities and details, but you don’t know where you are in relation to anything else. I have to know if I am east of the river or whatever. And no, I am not a fun person with whom to travel.

  8. Pam/Digging & Marlene : take a look at the “Level” dropdown. “1” is the default & pretty basic, but the other two levels, with their higher level of detail, might be more to your liking.

    Tibs : I’m with you re: GPS. I’ve used it to create the data for maps, but detest using one to navigate specifically because they don’t really tell you where you are !

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