Wisconsin Geospatial News

Take the Wisconsin Historic Landscape project online survey


As reported in an earlier Mapping Bulletin article, a team at UW-Madison is inviting the public to participate in a discussion about the Wisconsin Historic Landscape database. The goal of the project is to gain a better understanding of the user community so that the database can be made more accessible and useful to interested citizens, community organizations, individual landowners, government agencies, land information professionals, educators, and others.

The Wisconsin Historic Landscape database was developed by the UW-Madison Forest Ecosystem and Landscape Ecology Lab from the notes of General Land Office (GLO) surveyors. From the 1830s to the 1860s, government surveyors walked the land that would become the State of Wisconsin, systematically establishing survey markers and documenting “witness” or bearing trees that would help identify boundaries. The database contains a digitized record of the tree data and the notes recorded within surveyors’ notebooks. The database has been georeferenced to the Public Land Survey System to allow for mapping and GIS-based analysis.

Online Survey Now Available

A series of community forums are being held throughout the state to provide a way for the community to provide feedback and share thoughts and ideas.

For those unable to attend a forum, an online survey is now available. The survey will take 10-15 minutes to complete, and can be accessed here.

For more information on the project and the dates and locations of the forums see the project website.


The Wisconsin Historic Landscape Community Forum Project is funded by the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment, a competitive grant program designed to foster public engagement and advance the Wisconsin Idea – the principle that the University of Wisconsin should improve people’s lives beyond the classroom through teaching, research, outreach and public service.

Project partners are the UW-Madison Forest Ecosystem and Landscape Ecology Lab (within the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at UW-Madison), the State Cartographer’s Office (a division of the Department of Geography at UW-Madison), and UW Digital Collections Center.