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GeoSpatial Services partners with WSU and Winona Historical Society

March 30, 2021

Cardinal Update News Newsletters Undergrad Student Information

Historic vegetation map (1855) for Winona Township created by GeoSpatial Services.

In 2017, the Winona County Historical Society (WCHS) discovered a nearly 120 year-old transcribed copy of the original Public Land Survey (PLS) notes for Winona Township in its archives. The survey field notes provide a record of vegetation, landmarks, and other natural resources of the Winona area as they appeared in the middle of the 19th century. WCHS and Winona State University (WSU) received a grant from the State of Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund to digitize this and other historic ecological data with the goal of producing an accessible and shared resource to educate the community about the local ecologic history of the Driftless Area. GeoSpatial Services (GSS) joined the project to develop the needed spatial data, a digital vegetation map, and an interactive online Esri story map to present the findings.

Our digital vegetation mapping found that, historically, the most prevalent communities in Winona Township were prairie and oak woodland, followed by floodplain forest and savanna. Since the time of the original PLS, the expansion of the city of Winona has eliminated nearly all of the prairie and savanna, and human influence has modified waterways and the river floodplain.

For more information on the process and our findings, visit the full story map. GSS staff will also be giving an online presentation about the project on Tuesday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m. Learn more and join the presentation.