Home Archived December 11, 2018

The USGS Land Cover Institute (LCI)

  Idaho Land Cover
Capital Boise
Largest City Boise
Area Ranked 14th
Total 82,747.21 sq mi
Population Ranked 39th
Total (2000) 1,293,953
Density 15.6/sq mi
Highest point Borah Peak 12,662 ft (3,859 m)
Lowest point Snake River 710 ft (217 m)
Idaho Land Cover

Idaho is comprised of four land regions: the Rocky Mountains, the Columbia Plateau, the Snake River Plain, and the Basin and Range region. Idaho has over 80 recognized mountain ranges. The most notable include the Bitterroot, Coeur d’Alene, Clearwater, Sawtooth, and Seven Devils mountain ranges. The Rocky Mountains are characterized by heavy evergreen forest cover, steep canyons, and rugged terrain. The Columbia Plateau is located south of the Rocky Mountains and follows the Snake River into southern Idaho. The region is characterized by shrub and cultivated crop land cover. The majority of Idaho's agriculture is practiced within the region, with potatoes and sugar beets being the most profitable commodity cultivated. The Snake River Plain is also becoming a major dairy region. The Basin and Range region is located in the southeastern corner of Idaho and is known for its deep valleys between mountain ridges and grassy plateaus. Shrub, grass, and forest are the predominant land covers of the region.
The Importance of Land Cover Information

Scientists working in the USGS are among the leaders in the study of land cover. Land cover refers to the vegetation and artificial structures that cover the land's surface. Examples of land cover include trees, grass, crops, wetlands, water, buildings, and pavement. As scientists study land cover, they are also studying land use. Land use involves human activities that take place on the land such as farming, grazing, logging, and recreation. Land cover scientists use satellite images and other remotely sensed imagery to assess national and global land cover characteristics and monitor how - and how rapidly - land cover changes. They also study the economic impacts of land cover change as well as its effects on water quality, the spread of invasive species, habitat and biodiversity loss, climate variability, and other environmental factors. Scientists require up-to-date land cover information to accurately understand current conditions and to assess the extent and impacts of land cover change on the Earth system.