Picture Michigan Tomorrow Initiative

The MSU Land Policy Program (LPP), with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's People and Land program, launched the Picture Michigan Tomorrow (PMT) Initiative in 2005. The heart of this Initiative was to develop new models of Michigan's land use future to raise understanding of what the state will look like 20 to 40 years in the future. Part of this process included taking a closer look at Michigan's future with the goal of articulating the economic, ecological and social problems related to land use in more accessible terms, with less jargon, and fewer abstract concepts.

The core objective of PMT was to develop land use forecasts using computer modeling, then, more importantly, to translate those forecasts into things people care about. This strategic planning and outreach initiative delivered clear pictures of Michigan's land use future to the state's stakeholders. Picture Michigan Tomorrow built a robust, scalable, econometric model of future land consumption in Michigan. It incorporated the history of land use change, the primary drivers of land use change in Michigan, and new aerial imagery to forecast the future land use patterns. The outputs were both spatial and statistical forecasts, scaleable to the municipal level. Those forecasts were then be used to develop detailed reports on the impacts of land use change to federal, state, and local decision makers. The decision makers were also be able to look at multiple planning scenarios to evaluate the impact of policy changes. This effort helped form a foundation for understanding land use change in Michigan and a hierarchical planning and visualization tool for local, regional and state planners, as well as provided data and analysis to the research community.

Michigan Aerial Imagery Partnership

The Michigan Aerial Imagery Partnership (MAIP)—a partnership of seven state agencies, and the LPP and MSU Remote Sensing & GIS (RS&GIS)—was established in 2004 to acquire critical statewide aerial imagery for the first updating of statewide land cover/land use data since 1978. This project was part of the PMT Initiative.

Responding to urgent needs from across the state, in 2005, the LPP successfully brokered a $1.2 million deal on behalf of the partnership with the U.S. Farm Service Agency's National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP). The deal for acquisition of statewide imagery was funded by $800,000 in federal contributions from the U.S. Farm Service Agency, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service, and $400,000 from six state agencies and MSU. As a result of LPP and RS&GIS leadership, and extensive cooperation among state agencies, local and state planners and decision makers, access was granted to statewide aerial imagery for the first time in nearly a decade.

The aerial imagery for the entire state of Michigan was obtained during a flyover conducted in Summer 2015, through NAIP. The imagery provided 1-meter resolution, mid-growing season (leaf-on), color infrared photography for the entire state, which was available on the MSU Computational Ecology and Visualization Laboratory website. 



  • Tipping Point Analysis and Projection Tool
  • Community Land Use Change Drivers Interactive Map Tool
  • Michigan Aerial Imagery Partnership
  • Driving Factors Associate with Fragmentation and Parcelization in a Developing Michigan Project – Land Use/Cover (LULC) System
  • Regional Growth and Multi-Sectoral Land Use Change in Michigan - A Simultaneous Equations Approach
  • The Role of Corporate Timberland Ownership change in Land Use, Conservation and Local Prosperity in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Project
  • Michigan Land Use Resource Project