Natural Features Inventory

Athough MNFI maintains the most comprehensive database on rare species and natural communities in Michigan, this information is not complete. Data collection spans a long timeframe (late 1800's to present). Many places, especially private land, have never been surveyed (or the information was never recorded).

A Natural Features Inventory updates and fills the gaps in older records. It provides a more complete and accurate picture of biodiversity, which, in turn, lays a strong foundation for sound land use, natural resource management, and conservation decisions.

The MNFI team of ecology, botany, zoology, and aquatic zoology experts has more than 20 years of experience conducting natural features inventories on a variety of scales including state parks, state forests, large military installations, and entire counties.

The inventory process includes:

  • Preparation involves detailed aerial photo review, potential habitat delineation, development of rare species models, and aerial flights to confirm or eliminate sites that lack merit for ground surveys. This phase can take anywhere from 3-6 months depending on the scale of work.
  • The field work is typically conducted from spring through fall, depending on the best time to document the presence and condition of each natural feature.
  • The whole process typically spans 2 years, which allows for suitable survey conditions to be selected.

Local municipalities, regional units of government, and conservation organizations can negotiate a contract with MNFI to conduct an inventory of natural features in their region. Survey types range from targeting a group of animals, such as rare grassland or forest birds, to a comprehensive effort that incorporates natural communities, plants, and animals. Costs depend on several factors including: size of the area to be surveyed, degree of effort, number and type of species targeted, number of sites, acres of natural vegetation, size and configuration of vegetation blocks, fragmentation of ownership, and access to property.

For more information please contact Brian Klatt: klattb@msu.edu.