Don't MIRE your project in a Wetland!

USGS Topographic Mapping - Cartographic Cues to Environmental Data Management

The United States Geologic Survey (USGS) is a federal program that was established in 1879. Shortly thereafter, the task of systematic  topographic mapping of the United States began. Maps were available for use by as early as 1894. These early maps illustrated many of the same features we are familiar with today with regards to topographic maps. It wasn't until 1942 that a more modern looking topographic map began to take shape.  

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Topographic maps, for over 130 years, are a trusted tool for geospatial information. These maps are indispensable tools for many industries, and typically serve as a first line of planning information on many development projects. A unique feature of topographic maps are the interrelationships between the man-made environment, that which is developed, and the natural environment. Historically, with regards to wetlands, the general population often envisioned wetlands as areas of blight, disease, and difficult to farm. Unlike rivers that brought life giving waters to communities, wetlands were seen as useless. As such, they were typically avoided or drained. So much so, that development over time can be seen to circumvent and avoid areas of wetlands; as shown below on the left. The advent of the Clean Water Act, in 1972, ushered in a new era of wetland avoidance by development, which may explain the figure on the right. 

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Publically available data sources and aerial photography corroborate these yellow outlined areas as having elevated hydrology and other wetland indicative characteristics. USGS Topographic maps are critical tools when properly employed and used in combination with other environmentally sensitive data sets. Proper interpretation of USGS topographic maps allows ASC Group to bring enhanced decision-making to your projects early in the process. ASC Group's staff of experienced cultural and wetland professionals will work closely with you and your project team to achieve the best coordinated solution to your environmental needs. Our depth and understanding of cultural and ecological resources enables our data interpretation to better help your projects stay on time and keep away unnecessary surprises.

 
 
By Stuart Jennings, M.A., PWS
ASC Group Senior Ecologist
614.268.2514 ext.3447
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