Everyone knows about Google Maps and Google Earth, but did you know that there are a wealth of natural resources and conservation-related mapping resources available for free online? Watershed boundaries, water quality data, soil maps and data, well logs, aerial imagery both old and new, tree canopy – all available at your fingertips!
Here are a few of the ones that I find to be the most useful (or the most fun). They each have their own quirks for navigating the map and selecting which data layers to display, but after a little practice you’ll be finding and mapping cool information like a pro!
Cuyahoga County Greenprint – The interactive mapper contains parcel data, watersheds, surface water, wetlands, floodplains, steep slopes, topography, recent aerial imagery and more. To make navigation easier, I like to turn on the transportation layer first.
Cuyahoga County Tree Canopy Viewer – Maps the county’s tree canopy by community, watershed and census tract, plus other elements from the Tree Canopy Assessment such as possible canopy and canopy change.
Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery – Includes Cuyahoga County aerial photography from 1951, 1959, 1979 and 1986. Be sure to check out the index sheet for each set in order to find the right photo(s) for your location of interest. There are a lot of other interesting items from the county’s history to peruse in the digital library as well.
Cleveland Historic Street Maps – As a Cleveland resident, part-time history/geography buff, and full time streams nerd, this is a site I can easily spend an afternoon on. I especially love tracing the routes of my now-buried neighborhood streams such as Morgan Run, and seeing the older street names. The oldest map dates back to 1852, and you can overlay the current streets onto the old maps as well.
Ohio EPA Mapping Applications Portal – This site contains 8 different Ohio EPA surface water-related mapping applications showing water quality, watersheds, areas covered by watershed plans, discharge permits, stream and wetland mitigation sites, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and biosolids application sites.
ODNR Water Well Logs – This site is often helpful for determining depth to bedrock at a site, or at what depth wells in an area are pulling groundwater from. Water well locations are displayed on the map, and you can generate and download information from the well logs that were recorded at the time the well was drilled.
USDA-NRCS Web Soil Survey – The Web Soil Survey contains the data from the National Cooperative Soil Survey. If you ever used a hard copy county soil survey report, this site contains all that information and more. After drawing an area of interest, you can generate a soil map and hundreds of different soil classifications and ratings for the soils present.
USGS StreamStats – StreamStats allows the user to delineate watershed boundaries from any point on a stream that is present on a USGS quadrangle map. Once delineated, a number of observed and modeled factors can be evaluated, including land use, impervious cover and flow characteristics.
Did we leave out one of your favorite web mapping tools for natural resources conservation and planning? Be sure to share in the comments!
Blog Author: Jared Bartley, Senior Program Manager