Mapping Your Land

Having a map of your property is helpful in several ways. A map can provide a useful description of the property boundaries. It's a useful tool when working with a forester to develop your management plan. It can serve as a historical record for your heirs to carry forth your management objectives. And, it's pretty cool to be able to look at your forest in a different way.

While walking your property boundary you can take note of unique features of your land, such as wetlands, streams, old growth forests, caves and rock outcrops. By jotting down the unique features of your land, you will start to piece together its history and its current state. The map you create will be really beneficial when you work with a forester or other professional to develop a management plan for your property.

Step One: Your Base Map

There are two types of maps that work best to create a base map of your land: an aerial photo or a topographic (topo) map. It's also helpful to obtain a copy of your property deed so you can mark exact boundary lines of your property on your base map. A good source of free maps online is through the Kentucky Geological Survey website.

Step Two: A Walk in the Woods

You may enjoy walking through your woods on a regular basis. It's great exercise and a way to leave the pressures of daily life behind. Many well-known poems, paintings, prayers and great ideas were inspired by a simple walk in the woods. This activity will result in a different kind of masterpiece; one that will be invaluable to you in planning for your future forest. So get ready to play detective and observe all your forest has to tell you.

Reading Your Land is a simple checklist you can print and use to inventory past land uses and disturbances that have occurred on your property. It will also help you form a baseline for forest management activities. To observe and record your land's history you should take along a camera, your base map with property boundaries marked, a tree identification guide, and a notebook. Photos are very helpful in identifying and understanding your forest and can be a great tool when communicating with a forester about land management objectives. In your notebook, record where you take each photo. You may even want to mark your map with photo locations. That way, you’ll have a ready-made ID list when your pictures are ready.

There are many sources of maps and aerial photos available online:

United States Geological Survey

Kentucky Geological Survey

Kentucky Geology Network


Kentucky Topographic Map Image Download Center

Kentucky Wetlands Image Download Center






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