Stories From The Field

Observing Landscape Changes at the Municipal Level in Wisconsin

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Issue

Land cover change data provide a means for understanding how a region’s landscape is evolving over time. Wisconsin’s coastal municipalities wanted to see the amount and types of land cover changes in their region, but at the local level.

Process

Wisconsin Sea Grant worked with NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management to obtain Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP) land cover data from 1996 to 2006. The data were used in Wisconsin’s Coasts in Transition tool to view and analyze land cover changes. The next step for tool developers was to report change information similar to that provided by NOAA’s Land Cover Atlas, except at a finer scale for the municipal level. To simplify the reporting process, 17 land cover categories found within coastal Wisconsin were aggregated into 11 classes and examined to see the effects of development on Wisconsin’s coastal region.

Impact

C-CAP’s land cover data and technical assistance with change reporting helped local planners improve their understanding of development patterns. By examining adjacent municipalities and considering their changing landscapes over time, planners and managers can understand the effects of previous land use decisions and consider the implications of future land use planning in their coastal region.

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Wisconsin Coasts in Transition report for Sheboygan area.

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