Maps – Charting the Way to Understanding Land

All of us at Fountains Land seek to provide as much information about our listed properties as possible, so buyers can thoroughly understand a property before they spend time and resources to conduct further due diligence and visit the land. We provide much of this information on our website, including a detailed report about each property, photos, various maps and links to Google Map and Google Earth. This way, buyers can immediately and anonymously access information on their own time.

On each property page on our website there are two or three tabs on the top left. The first tab shows you the photos of the property; this is what is displayed when you open the page. If you click the “Maps” tab, you will have access to 5 or 6 maps of the property.

Google Maps:

If you click on the button next to “Google Maps,” the program launches automatically showing you the boundaries of the property. This will allow you to understand the property relative local features, particularly town centers and roads.

Google Earth:

Even more dynamic is the link to Google Earth.  You must first have Google Earth installed on your computer or phone (it is free). When you click on the button on our website by “Google Earth,” the link will open automatically to show you the property boundaries on the earth’s surface. While just seeing the property this way is interesting in and of itself, there are some cool features on Google Earth that can help you more thoroughly understand a property. One of the features I use often is the “historical imagery” icon at the top of the Google Earth screen (the icon has a picture of a clock with a counter clockwise arrow over it). This feature allows the user to go back in time to see different photo images. It’s a great tool to help understand how a property has changed over time (new roads, thinned timber, expanded meadows, etc.). 


Another useful feature on Google Earth is the topography map layer. To access and load this feature, go to and click on the “View Google Earth” box and this will automatically load the latest USGS Topo layer to your “Places” folder on Google Earth. At the very bottom of the “Places” window, just above the “Layers” window, are two icons. The left icon activates “search” and the right icon activates the slider bar. Click the slide bar icon. Then slide the bar to make the topo map more transparent. You can now see the topographic elevation lines over the satellite photo of the property.

Topo and Photo Maps:

In addition to a topographic map, which will give you a sense of the terrain of the property, we provide various types of photo maps with each offering a different perspective of the landscape. One type of photo map that I always find useful is the Infrared Map (IR) which normally shows hardwood stands as a grey color and softwood stands in red. This map provides a feel for species composition and is helpful when navigating a property.

You may see a sixth map button labelled “Other Maps.” We include these maps when needed. Most often, this extra map is a stand map, which shows the various timber stand locations on a property. However, it may also be a soils map if that is particularly relevant for a certain property, a tap count map if the property has sugarbush potential or a different kind of photo map than we included in the “Photo Map” spot.

Between all of these map types, you should be able to get a pretty good sense of a property right from your desk. If you have a suggestion for other resources that you would like to see on our website, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Enjoy your exploration!


Michael Tragner

The author is a professional forester and timberland broker with Fountains Land who has served timberland owners and buyers in the northeast since 1989.