This statewide land cover theme is a baseline digital map of the natural and human land cover of Montana. The baseline map is adapted from the Northwest ReGAP project land cover classification, which used 30m resolution multi-spectral satellite imagery acquired between 1999 and 2001. Vegetation classes were drawn from the Ecological System Classification developed by NatureServe (Comer et al. 2003). The land cover classes were developed by Anderson et al. (1976). The NWGAP effort encompasses 12 map zones. Montana overlaps seven of these zones. The two NWGAP teams responsible for the initial land cover mapping effort in Montana were Sanborn and NWGAP at the University of Idaho. Both Sanborn and NWGAP employed a similar modeling approach in which Classification and Regression Tree (CART) models were applied to Landsat ETM scenes. The Spatial Analysis Lab within the Montana Natural Heritage Program was responsible for developing a seamless Montana land cover map with a consistent statewide legend from these two separate products. Additionally, the Montana land cover layer incorporates several other land cover and land use products (e.g., MSDI Structures and Transportation themes and the Montana Department of Revenue Final Land Unit classification) and reclassifications based on plot-level data and the latest NAIP imagery to improve accuracy and enhance the usability of the theme. Additional updates to improve the accuracy are conducted on an annual basis (e.g., including the latest fire perimeter and oil, gas, and wind turbine location information). New MSDI Land Cover themes will be made available through the Montana Geographic Information Clearinghouse, hosted by Montana State Library (MSL) on an annual basis. Additionally, previous versions will be archived and available. This version was last updated December 2017.
Originally this land cover classification was an update of the Gap Analysis Program's mapping and assessment of biodiversity for the five-state region encompassing Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. Specifically, the primary objective of the update was to identify biotic elements that are underrepresented on lands managed from their long term conservation. Additionally, the updated Montana land cover layer may be used for analyses at the regional, sub-regional, and landscape levels; it may also provide support for management disciplines, including timber, wildlife, fisheries, and recreation. This service displays the MSDI Framework Land Cover as compiled by the Montana Natural Heritage Program. This is the 2017 version, which has been modified substantially since 2013, especially with regards to human land uses and fire extent. There are three levels of grouping that can be displayed at ANY scale. The default is to display each LandCover value as its own unique color. Operations allowed include: Map (Display), Query (Identity), Data (Find). Beyond 1:2,000,000 scale, the default grouping is Level 1, with 8 broad cataegories. From 1:2,000,000 to 1:250,000, the default is Level 2, with 27 categories. Beyond 1:250,000, each LandCover value has its own unique value, and corresponds to Level 3 ecological systems. Additional information can be obtained from the Montana Field Guide at http://fieldguide.mt.gov/displayES_LCLU.aspx