Massachusetts, USA, 25 July 2006: The Nature Conservancy has commended the Massachusetts Legislature for overriding Gov. Romney’s veto to enact a $400,000 budget item that will finance a state-of-the-art map detailing forests, parks, housing, roadways, and other features of the Massachusetts landscape. Produced with a digital mapping software, the new map is expected to enhance land use planning by municipalities, public agencies, developers, homeland security officials, and conservation organizations.
Sponsored by Representative Douglas Petersen, the one-time expenditure directs the state Office of Geographic and Environmental Information Systems (MassGIS) to develop a map of all structures and natural areas in each city and town of the Commonwealth. Petersen, who also sponsored legislation that led to creation of the MassGIS Office in 1998, called the anticipated GIS map “an invaluable asset to housing officials, land use and transportation planners, conservationists, and smart growth advocates involved in adopting best-management practices of our land resources.”
The MassGIS Office stores, distributes and generates over 1,000 digital maps – or layers – of demographic, geographic and land use information. The agency also coordinates and standardizes critical data for use by municipalities, public agencies, businesses, developers, environmental organizations and land trusts to assist in homeland security, economic development, transportation, housing and environmental protection planning.
By interpreting the 2005 photos through an advanced data layer, the new statewide map will reveal with accuracy the Commonwealth’s forests, agricultural areas, and various densities of residential, commercial and industrial uses.
The product funded by the Legislature this week will employ the latest technology to reveal “hidden” development – potentially improving current projections about land use trends by 50 percent. The updated map is expected to take six to eight months to produce.