Maps & GIS Data

Some of these maps are very large files and may take a few minutes to load. Click on thumbnails to go to JPG images.


The Driftless Area is a unique region in the Upper Mississippi River Basin encompassing southeast Minnesota, southwest and west -central Wisconsin, northeast Iowa, and a part of northwest Illinois. The glaciers that covered much of the Midwest bypassed the Driftless Area, giving rivers time to cut down into ancient bedrock and create distinctive landforms. Many of the soils that cover the steep slopes are fragile, ecosystems are diverse, and most of the cold-water streams and rivers are recognized on a state and national basis for their economic, environmental, and recreational importance.
(High Resolution PDF) 35.7MB
For Shape file click on following link: Driftless Area Boundary (Shapefile)
Slope of the land is an important factor related to storm water run-off. Runoff is a major contributor to soil erosion and water pollution. Other factors related to soil loss and sediment/nutrient loading of streams and rivers include: soil type, vegetative cover, rainfall intensity, the distance water can flow before it is slowed by terrain or vegetation, and conservation practices used on the land.
(High Resolution PDF) 19.1MB
Topography is something that most people can relate to intuitively. When looking at a topographic map, many people will try to find the valley or ridgeline their property is on. This hillshade map provides an opportunity to examine the unique landforms of the Driftless Area, and envision the factors involved with watershed boundaries, land use, and conservation priorities.
(High Resolution PDF) 106MB
The Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation can be used to develop regional maps showing broad patterns of erosion risk across the landscape. This map incorporates information about slope, length of slope, soils, rainfall, and vegetative cover to develop a picture of how erosion risk is distributed across the Driftless Area landscape, and surrounding watersheds. It is important to keep in mind that specific conservation practices employed by farmers will mitigate much of the erosion risk depicted by this map.
(High Resolution PDF) 2.25MB
Land use has a profound influence on the way in which rainfall and other water reaching the surface of our land affects agricultural productivity, flooding, soil loss, pollutant loading of surface waters, and an array of other factors critical to the health of our ecosystems and economy. Healthy vegetative cover (forests and grasslands) filter and promote the infiltration of water into the ground, supplying a constant source of recharge to high quality streams and rivers.
(High Resolution PDF) 14.9MB
1992 Land cover Map PDF
Watersheds are defined as an area within which water that is deposited on the ground (through rainfall, irrigation, snow melt, or other means) will drain to a common exit point. Watersheds provide a natural unit for managment planning, as conservation activities within a watershed will affect the quality of surface and ground water leaving the area. Watersheds can be defined on many different scales ranging from large river basins to local sub-watersheds covering only a few townships or less. The HUC8 watershed is part of a hierarchial classification system defined used to assign a unique identification number to each drainage basin.
(High Resolution PDF)1.44MB
Forest Cover.Rich woodlands covering steep hillsides are a distinctive feature of the Driftless Area landscape. These forests provide countless opportunities for wildlife and outdoor adventure. Oak, hickory, and a mixture of northern and central hardwoods provide some of the best remaining habitat for neo-tropical migratory birds in the region. Although fragmentation arising from human development is a primary concern, large blocks of forest continue to absorb rain and snowfall, and provide critical habitat for interior forest dependent birds in this landscape.
(High Resolution PDF)1.48MB
1992 Forest Cover Map PDF
This map shows the Patch Cohesion Index of forest habitat connectivity overlaid with other information about the landforms and landuse of the Driftless Area. Connectivity information provides some insight about where land managers might encounter the conditions required to manage for interior forest habitat. Such habitat typically occurs in densely forested landscapes where the influence of surrounding urban and agricultural areas is minimized and large blocks of forest exist.
(High Resolution PDF)15.4MB
Managed Areas. Land and water resources currently under known management are an important part of the management planning picture. Areas such as state parks, fish and wildlife refuges and conservation easements can serve as nuclei around which habitat preservation and restoration can take place. Implementing stewardship that links these critical habitat areas together and provides a buffer from the effects of roads, urban areas, and other land use is an important part of making sure that sensitive wildlife species continue to have access to the habitat they need to survive.
(High Resolution PDF)1.16MB
MLRAs were developed by the USDA's Soil Conservation Service -- today's Natural Resources Conservation Service -- for inter-state, regional and national planning. The majority of the Driftless Area falls within Major Land Resource Area 105. The remaining acres are the upper portions of watersheds that flow into MLRA 105; mostly from MLRA 104.
(High Resolution PDF)937KB
Congressional Districts of the Driftless Area and the Represenative to Congress from each district.
(High Resolution PDF)682KB
  For additional shape files for DAI maps click on the following link: Driftless Area GIS Files