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Geospatial Analysis Center

Comparative Use of Depression-era Wisconsin Economic Land Inventory Maps (Bordner Survey) for Present Day Land use Management in the Wisconsin Lake Superior Basin

Funded by the GAC.
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), John Jereczek (WI DNR)

It is clear that land use activities in the early part of the 1900s had significant impacts on stream hydrology, wetlands, forest composition and coastal estuaries in the Wisconsin Lake Superior Basin. Capturing GIS data from this time will provide information from a critical period that can help understand the changes in these natural systems as well as provide a clue into developing restoration strategies. The project will rectify, digitize and compile historical data including the Wisconsin Economic Land Inventory Maps and other historical aerial photos. The Wisconsin Economic Land Inventory Maps are often called the "Bordner Survey" after its director, John Bordner. The Wisconsin Land Economic Inventory was a Depression-era project to inventory the land resources of Wisconsin so that they could be used more productively. Field workers, usually trained foresters, tried to touch each "forty" in a county and map current land use and land cover, signs of erosion, and size and quality of stands of timber. Included on the maps are such features as houses, schools, churches, taverns, cheese factories, filling stations, and logging camps. Each map covers one survey township. These maps present a portrait of the Wisconsin landscape during the 1930s and 1940s and can be valuable in understanding the progression that affected the landscape hydrologic processes we see in action today.

These data will be useful to continue research in the causes and possible remediation of degraded streams due to impaired hydrologic condition. It will provide students with both technical and scientific application of GIS technology. The data will be available to DNR managers and students to conduct social, economic, and natural resource analysis in a GIS environment.

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