Vegetation circa 1800
Between 1816 and 1856, Michigan was systematically surveyed by the General Land Office (GLO), which had been established by the federal government in 1785. The detailed notes taken by the land surveyors have proven to be a useful source of information on Michigan's landscape as it appeared prior to wide-spread European settlement. Surveyors took detailed notes on the location, species, and diameter of each tree used to mark section lines and section corners. They commented on the locations of rivers, lakes, wetlands, the agricultural potential of soils and the general quality of timber along each section line as they were measured out. Biologists from the Michigan Natural Features Inventory developed a methodology to translate the notes of the GLO surveys into a digital map that can be used by researchers, land managers, and the general public.