Minnesota Land Use/Cover:  Recent (1969-present)

This page identifies modern land use/cover data and maps. Nationwide data sources are described in the first section followed by statewide sources and then regional and county sources. Note that the regional sources are usually more detailed than the state or national sources.

Sample from "Forested Counties" data setWhere to start?

Quick-start comparison table: An overview of Minnesota land use/cover sources by geographic area, time period, scale/resolution, classification, and data type.

National inventories
Minnesota inventories
Regional and county inventories
Contact and update information

National inventories

  • National Land Cover Data (NLCD)
    The National Land Cover Characterization project was created in 1995 to develop a nationally consistent land cover data set. In addition to satellite data, scientists use a variety of supporting information to determine land cover type at a 30-meter resolution. The classification is a modified version of the general Level II categories of the Anderson system.
  • GAP Land Cover
    The Gap Analysis Project creates land cover datasets as part of its mission to identify habitats that need further protection. Based on the same satellite imagery that is used for the National Land Cover Data described above, its classification is more detailed and places special emphasis on natural plant communities.
    • GIS data from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
    Minnesota Land Cover 1991-1992: colorful poster-sized map from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Resource Assessment unit, including acreages of each land cover category.
  • National Resources Inventory (NRI)
    NRI is a statistically based survey that has been designed to assess conditions and trends of soil, water and related resources on non-federal lands in the United States. Initially, the Natural Resources Conservation Service conducted the inventory on a 5-year cycle (1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001) but changed to an annual program starting in 2001. Data on land cover and use is one of the many attributes that NRI captures at more than 800,000 scientifically selected sample sites, of which more than 8,100 are in Minnesota.
  • Cropland Data Layer (CDL): U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service
    This data emphasizes agricultural land cover and is produced using satellite imagery.
    • Cropscape viewer:  View or download data; generate reports
    • GIS data:  Find extensive documentation and download or order data:
  • Coastal Change Analysis Program, Regional Land Cover and Change: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    These nationally standardized, raster-based inventories cover coastal intertidal areas, wetlands, and adjacent uplands for the coastal U.S. Data are derived from the analysis of multiple dates of remotely sensed Landsat imagery. Data is available as individual dates of land cover and change files comparing one date to another. This 30-meter data is updated every five years using consistent procedures.
  • LANDFIRE:  U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and U.S. Department of the Interior
    This multi-partner program produces consistent, comprehensive, geospatial data and databases that describe vegetation, wildland fuel, and fire regimes.
  • Land Use / Land Cover (LULC): U.S. Geological Survey
    The 21-class LULC data was based primarily on the manual interpretation of 1970s and 1980s aerial photography.

Minnesota inventories

  • 2013 Land Cover Classification and Impervious Surface Area by Landsat and LiDAR
    A 15-meter raster dataset created using a combination of multi-temporal Landsat 8 data and LiDAR data with object-based image analysis.
  • 2000 and 1990 Level 1 Landsat Landcover Classification
    Seven land cover types were derived via multitemporal, multispectral supervised classification of satellite imagery.
  • 1990s Census of the Land
    Eight categories were generalized from more detailed regional and county inventories (described below) to produce a statewide poster-size map (now out-of-print). Note that the detailed inventories were done at different time periods and used different classification systems.
  • 1969: This statewide inventory classifies land use into 9 categories mapped at a 40-acre resolution.

Regional and county inventories

The following maps and data sets cover various regions of Minnesota. They are more detailed than the state inventories described above. See a map of areas covered by each data set. Also check county websites for planned land use or zoning maps.
  • Agricultural and transition counties (1988-90)
  • Forested counties (1991-96)
  • Twin Cities metropolitan area (Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties; MLCCS covers portions of these counties and also includes areas in some counties near the metro)
    • Land Cover 2015: A 1-meter raster dataset created using a combination of 2015 FSA NAIP data, LiDAR, and other datasets, using object-based image analysis.
    • Metropolitan Council: A variety of land use datasets are available from the Minnesota Geospatial Commons, including generalized land use for 2010, 2005 and 2000, historical generalized land use (2010, 2005, 2000, 1997, 1990 and 1984 combined), 1945 and 1959 residential land use, and planned land use.
    • Metropolitan Council maps and statistics: For the years 2005, 2000, 1997 and 1990, choose from an online map, tables and charts, or printable maps by municipality.
    • Twin Cities Metro Hybrid Landcover 2000: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources used reference information to clarify and correct classifications in the University of Minnesota's Landsat-based metro landcover data set.
    • Minnesota Land Cover Classification System (MLCCS): This data system was developed beginning in 1998 to categorize urban and built-up areas in terms of land cover rather than land use. The project is ongoing; check DNR's status maps for geographic areas that are completed, planned and proposed.
    • Land Cover and Impervious Surface Area 2002: Map and statistics; also available for 1998, 1991, and 1986. Statistics are available by county, city and township.
    • Land Cover Change Classification project: This project evaluates the potential for satellite remote sensing for land cover classification and change analysis (Landsat, 1991 and 1998). The website contains maps, a viewer, statistics and a description of the project and is maintained by the University of Minnesota's Upper Midwest Regional Earth Science Applications Center.
  • Duluth and Rochester (2015): 1-meter raster dataset created using a combination of 2015 FSA NAIP data, LiDAR, and other datasets, using object-based image analysis.
  • Olmsted County (1992 and 2000)
  • Clearwater and Beltrami Counties (1986)
  • Camp Ripley and Beltrami Island State Forest, in Morrison and Roseau counties (1992-96)
  • Minnesota County Biological Survey Native Plant Community and Rare Species (ongoing since 1987)
  • Voyageurs National Park, in northern St. Louis County
    The park's vegetation mapping program has produced maps and GIS data.
  • Upper Mississippi River System USGS, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
    In Minnesota, this data includes land cover along the Mississippi River from the Twin Cities south to Iowa, plus the lower Minnesota and lower St. Croix Rivers.  Years include: 2010, 2000, 1998, 1995, 1994, 1991, 1989, 1975, and 1890's.  Level of detail, area covered, and source of data varies greatly by year.  The site provides a viewer and GIS data.


Contact and update information

The information on this site represents MnGeo's most up-to-date understanding of land use/cover data for Minnesota. If you know of other publicly available land use/cover information sources, please contact us at:  gisinfo.mngeo@state.mn.us

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