The PLACE Project's Interactive Web-based Conservation and Community Resource Atlas
can be accessed here -- http://gis.missoulacounty.us/caps/place
What is the Practical Landscape Assessment for Conservation and Enhancement (PLACE)?
The Practical Landscape Assessment for Conservation and Enhancement (PLACE) is an effort by Missoula County to:
- inventory and map information about conservation resources in Missoula County—including natural and cultural resources—with a focus on those that can be affected by human land use and development;
- help local government efficiently and consistently review subdivision and open space bond projects, using objective information about conservation resources;
- provide landowners, community groups, and other interested parties with easy access to information about conservation resources in Missoula County.
The landscape assessment gathers existing data from a variety of sources to consolidate into a county-wide conservation resource database and atlas of resource maps. This library of information will make resource data publicly available and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of existing resource conservation and development measures.
The landscape assessment is a spatial inventory, meaning it identifies where resources are located throughout the county. It is not a complete inventory of conservation resources and it is expected that the inventory will grow as additional data become available for resources of interest to Missoula County residents.
What are Conservation Resources?
The abundant natural and cultural resources in Missoula County are valued by the people who live here and contribute to the local economy, ecology, and quality of life that make Missoula County a popular place to live and visit.
The PLACE project focuses on natural and cultural resources that are potentially vulnerable to human land use activities, especially in the face of population growth and development, and thus are of particular conservation interest.
The landscape assessment has thus far gathered existing countywide data on resources in four main categories:
- Working Lands - Working lands such as farms, ranches, and forests contribute to the local economy, the rural character of communities, the stewardship of streams and wildlife habitat, and the production of local food and wood products. The Landscape Assessment will identify lands currently and/or potentially used for farming, grazing, or timber harvesting throughout the county.
- Flora and Fauna - While hundreds of fish, wildlife, and plant species exist in Missoula County, a handful are of particular conservation interest because of their rarity, their sensitivity to human disturbance or habitat alteration, and/or their cultural and economic importance to Missoula County residents. The Landscape Assessment will identify habitats and important areas for wildlife and plant species of conservation concern.
- Human Connections - In Missoula County, places of historic importance and recreational opportunity abound, making the area a popular place to visit and to live. The Landscape Assessment will identify existing places of historic or recreational importance, including trails, parks, historic sites, hunting & fishing areas, and other places that provide community connections to the landscape.
- Aquatic and Riparian Resources - Missoula County is blessed with an abundance of high quality lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater resources. These areas provide water for drinking and irrigating, habitat for fish and other aquatic species, places for recreation and scenic enjoyment, and many other benefits. The Landscape Assessment will identify various aquatic and riparian resources throughout the county.
Why Conduct a Landscape Assessment?
As local government, Missoula County has a responsibility to conserve and enhance natural and cultural resources, because they are important to residents who value the clean water, abundant wildlife, diverse recreation opportunities, and working landscapes in Missoula County. These resources are integral to local livelihoods, economies, and communities.
Resource data used to inform open space bond project review and subdivision project review is already available and used for informing project review. However, resource data is not always easy or efficient to access. Natural and cultural resource information is held by various resource management agencies and organizations, exists on a variety of scales, and can be difficult to find. Missoula County previously conducted an inventory of conservation resources, but this information has not been updated since 1992. Through PLACE, consistent, reliable and current conservation resource information will be mapped and made available for government officials, as well as landowners, conservation professionals, development professionals, and others.