banner_left banner_text banner_right
Home SiteMap Contact US
./images/banner_spring.jpg banner_right2
Follow us on Facebook
email sign-up
Google Custom Search

  Buy Your License

Basic Natural Resource Inventory (NRI)

Figuring out what natural resources are present is critical in any conservation planning process. We recommend that each town complete at least a basic Natural Resource Inventory. This can be a computer review of existing natural resource data with the production of six basic maps. This could be done by volunteers in the town with basic GIS skills or could be hired out for contract. Since the basic NRI involves the use of existing data, it shouldn't be too expensive. See Resources for contacting your Regional Planning Commission or private consultant. Or Contact Us.


What GIS data do I need?

We recommend that all towns begin with a Basic Natural Resources Inventory. All data for this process can re acquired from existing sources on the web and elsewhere.

A Basic Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) should include some variation of the following maps


Map Description

Map Sample

Layers needed (named and made by the Vermont Center for Geographic Information (VCGI)

Conserved Lands & Water Resources

  • Conserved Lands CadastralPublands_CONSPUB

  • Wetlands WaterWetlands_VSWI

  • Town Boundaries BoundaryTown_TWNBNDS

  • Hydrology Waterhydro_VHD

  • Roads TransRoad_RDS

  • Contours ElevationContours_CN100T

Land Use / Land Cover
  • Land Cover LandLandcov_LCLU2002

  • Town Boundaries BoundaryTown_TWNBNDS

  • Hydrology Waterhydro_VHD

  • Roads TransRoad_RDS


Prime Agricultural Soils
  • Soils GeologicSoils_SO

  • Town Boundaries BoundaryTown_TWNBNDS

  • Contours ElevationContours_CN100T

  • Hydrology Waterhydro_VHD

  • Roads TransRoad_RDS

Core Forest Blocks
  • Core Forest EcologicHabitat_COREHAB

  • Town Boundaries BoundaryTown_TWNBNDS

  • Contours ElevationContours_CN100T

  • Hydrology Waterhydro_VHD

  • Roads TransRoad_RDS

Aerial Photo
Wildlife Habitat & rare threatened & endangered species.
  • Wildlife Suitability Analysis EcologicHabitat_WLH

  • Wildlife Crossing Value EcologicHabitat_WCV

  • Deer Wintering Habitat EcologicHabitat_DEERWN

  • Element Occurrences in Heritage Database EcologicOther_RTENATCOM   (Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species & Significant Communities)

Tax map overlays
  • Parcel Boundaries can be obtained from the local Regional Planning Commissions
  • We recommend printing this on transparent film such that it can be placed on all of the other maps in the NRI set that are at the same scale.
Co-occurring Resources (Multiple resources occurring together)
  • This is talked about in the prioritization section.
  • Important Aquatic Sites in Vermont WaterHydro_AQUATIC 
  • VT Biodiversity Project, Biological Hotspots in Vermont  EcologicHabitat_HOTSPOTS 

The next step is an Advanced NRI. Generally this sort of investigation of a town's natural resources is in much more depth than a basic NRI. It might be a town-wide natural community map or details on the home range of one important species in town. This type of data provides the towns with more specific information than a Basic NRI, but is more expensive since Advanced NRIs require paying for field work and advanced map-making.

Community Value Mapping 

Mapping your town's values is a useful addition to the inventory process. Since our use of the landscape has an incredible effect, it makes sense to figure out the values that help create that land use. The advantage of doing this as a map instead of a written survey is that you can use this spatially-explicit information (e.g. hunting areas) in the prioritization process to help you assign more values to specific natural heritage elements in addition to ecological functions.

Give a blank map of town with roads and streams to every person in town. Ask them to draw on it where the go and what the do there or value about it. So, where do you hunt or go for walks or farm or think is a beautiful landscape? Once you compile all the returned maps, you've created a map that shows what your town feels about different areas. 

High Public Value 

It is very useful to frame the discussion during the inventory phase in terms of high public value. Wetlands and core forests offer values to the public as the above exercise points out. We value these landscapes for their aesthetic beauty, the presence of wildlife for viewing and hunting among many others. Charlotte, for example has made a made showing cultural and natural features of High Public Value.


Where do I get GIS data for Vermont?

Vermont Center for Geographic Information

Website:   (This is the data warehouse for all publicly available GIS data in Vermont. It includes all manner of data layers but does NOT include orthophotos or parcel boundaries. Note that to look at data before you download it, go to their Map Center

Vermont Mapping Program

(This office provides orthophoto maps to municipalities and others. The easiest way to get orthophotos is to go to their office and choose the one you want. If that's not an option, call them and ask them to send or fax you the index that includes the appropriate code identifier for the map(s) you want.)


VT Department of Taxes

133 State Street

Montpelier, VT 05602


Regional Planning Commissions

Website:  (The Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies provides links to each of the regional commissions. The Regional Planning Commissions hold the parcel boundary maps for each region in Vermont. For most areas these are in the form of ready-made GIS coverages, though this varies from region to region. Vermont has 12 Regional Planning Commissions, each governed by a Board of Directors composed of representatives from the member municipalities. These quasi-governmental, nonprofit Commissions provide technical guidance and support services to their member municipalities and the public. Their primary role is to provide technical assistance in writing town plans and zoning ordinances. 


How do I look at GIS data online? (Looking at the data you want prior to downloading big files can save you time. Here are some places to look at various GIS coverages that you might want to download)

Vermont Center for Geographic Information

Website: is VCGI's map center. Only some of the layers that VCGI offers can be viewed here)

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources GIS viewer

Website: This is ANR's Environmental Interest Locator.

Field Work

There is an overwhelming amount of computer data available for most areas of Vermont, but there is no substitute for on the ground knowledge of what's going on ecologically in an area. The knowledge of consulting ecologists and foresters can be a tremendous asset in the planning process. See our Resources section for contacts. Often theses costs are part of the advanced natural resource inventory.



Finding people to help with your GIS needs

We at the Community Wildlife Program are eager to help municipalities, conservation commissions, planning commissions, non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in conservation planning projects. We are happy to give assistance. We do a lot of basic NRI mapping for towns and look at local development patterns as well as reviewing town documents and advising on conservation projects. Please Contact Us

Also Contact Us for a list of environmental consultants. For extended GIS mapping projects (such as that involved in advanced NRIs) or for field work it may be necessary to hire one of these professional companies or find other means. Be aware that Advanced Inventories are more costly than Basic NRIs and may require additional data gathering.


Learning more about GIS

Be sure to take a look at our Resources section for information relevant to mapping. We specifically recommend looking through all the resources on the VCGI site (not just the data) Try the VCGI Publications page.


Some tips for GIS users

Printing the basic inventory maps at the same exact scale and with the same extent is important. This allows you to print the parcel boundaries on a transparent sheet that can be placed over any of the other maps.

We recommend that your map show data at least one inch beyond the immediate boundaries of your town or area of interest. This helps remind us all that natural features do not end at the town line, and shows us where resources in other towns might affect our own planning.

Record ALL YOUR DATA SOURCES on the map. This will help viewers to figure out how you did what you did and is important for copyright law. 


Copyright © 2003-2015 Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. All Rights Reserved.