Marine Conservation Agreements
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Maine Maps

Digital Data Availability Summary

York Cumberland Sagadahoc Lincoln Knox Waldo Hancock Washington

Click for local parcel information. Map courtesy Digital Map Store

MAINE Spatial Non-spatial None
GIS Data Portals x    
Reference and Supporting Data  
Cadastral Reference Grid     x
Shorelines x    
Coastal Imagery x    
Bathymetry x    
Marine Jurisdictional Boundaries x    
Submerged Lands Boundaries x    
Ownership  
    Submerged Lands Parcels *   x
    General Property and Parcel Data x    
    Public and Conservation Lands x    
Leases and Other Use Authorizations  
    Aquaculture and Shellfish x    
    Other Use Authorizations *   x
Marine Managed Areas x    
Local Parcel Information 8 coastal counties. Numerous municipalities
    Deed Records Availability of local data was not completely assessed. Links to some local data sources are identified.
    Assessment Data
    Parcels
* Some data may be available from state agencies as described below; however, we have not found any online links, descriptions, or metadata.

Why is marine cadastral data important for conservation and marine spatial planning?

Marine Cadastral Data Management

The Maine State Planning Office participated in TNC’s Nationwide Comparative Assessment of State-level Marine Cadastral Data, including an interview on Maine’s marine data needs and marine cadastral data management,1 and a written inventory (pdf) of Maine’s state-level marine cadastral data (SMCD).2

State Data Management: The Maine Office of GIS serves as the state coordinating body for GIS management and data development. They provide a data catalog, data sources within and outside of state government, and links to other information. The Maine Library of Geographic Information (or Maine Geolibrary) was created in 2005 to provide a coordinated, cost-effective electronic gateway for public access to state and non-state spatial data through its GeoPortal.

In Maine, many responsibilities, including records and ordinances that relate to coastal areas are at the township level as opposed to the county level. Governance is divided into three areas: 1) state agencies; 2) unorganized territories; and 3) organized municipalities. The state is responsible for managing state lands and the unorganized territories, of which there are over 400. An organized municipality has a form of elected local government which administers and provides local services, keeps records, collects licensing fees, and can pass locally binding ordinances among other responsibilities of self-government. Collectively, the 488 organized municipalities in Maine cover less than half of the state's territory. Maine also has three Indian reservations: Indian Island, Indian Township Reservation, and Pleasant Point Indian Reservation.3

Marine Cadastre and Supporting Data

The State of Maine is actively involved in obtaining and collecting spatial data for marine planning. The State Planning Office recently compiled an extensive set of existing spatial data for the Ocean Energy Demonstration Siting Initiative in the Gulf of Maine (OED Data Compilation pdf). The State cooperates in several regional efforts, including the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), the Northeast Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS), and the Atlantic States Wind Consortium.

Maine is developing an online Maine Coastal Atlas that is currently (2011) deployed in beta version. The State is working to coordinate its data design with the Massachusetts Ocean Resource Information System (MORIS) and the Rhode Island Special Area Marine Plan to allow regional data integration. Current marine data priorities for Maine include high-resolution bathymetry, habitat and migration mapping, alternative energy assessment, and human use patterns.

Cadastral Reference System: Maine does not currently manage its marine cadastral data as a unified system, but has produced for TNC a first-cut inventory of state-level marine cadastral entities, data, and authoritative sources. Like most states, Maine does not use a marine cadastral reference grid. Towns and counties have jurisdiction (not ownership) for some purposes below low water, but boundaries are poorly defined. A “Maine Townships” GIS layer showing town boundaries extending to 3 n.m. has been a source of confusion. Metadata is clear that these were only drawn to close polygons. Town charters are imprecise: “to the sea.”

Supporting Reference Data

Supporting reference data, as of 2011, was being compiled and published by the Maine GIS Office. Ongoing and future data acquisition projects can be found at the Maine Geolibrary; this is downloadable data to be used in a GIS.

Shorelines and Bathymetry: The Unified Coastline Pilot Project is seeking to develop a large-scale mean high water coastline for a small portion of the southern coast by looking at existing MHW lines together with high-resolution orthophotos and LiDAR data. Some jurisdictional boundaries lack legal clarity. Low-resolution bathymetry is also available from both the GIS Data Catalog and viewable from the Geolibrary.

Coastal Imagery: There are several series of coastal ortho-imagery available from the GIS Data Catalog and viewable from the Geolibrary.

Marine Jurisdictional and Submerged Lands Boundaries: Some jurisdictional boundaries lack legal clarity. Maine’s lateral marine boundaries with New Hampshire and Canada are not fully agreed upon. Towns and counties have some jurisdiction in marine waters, but the seaward boundaries are not described with precision. The Department of Conservation has a digital representation of public submerged lands that is not distributed.

Ownership, Leases and Other Authorizations: Upland ownership generally extends to mean low water, and this should be reflected, at least generally, on town assessor maps. Spatial data is maintained by the Department of Marine Resources on aquaculture leases, and authorizations for alternative energy sites, cables and pipelines, dredge disposal locations, and seagrass restoration; leases for docks and piers on public submerged lands are excluded from this dataset. Some but not all of the aforementioned data is available from the Geolibrary.

Marine Managed Areas: Spatial data exists on a wide variety of marine managed areas, from Scallop Closure Areas to the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, but not all is currently available from the Geolibrary.

Local Parcel Information: Maine had a project to collect and publish local government parcel data in 2005, which was collected and is now available for viewing in the GeoLibrary; downloads are available from the GIS Data Catalog. The parcels on the web site include only the geometry and references to the tax assessment information (lot and block). As such, it will be necessary to go to the local government to acquire this data. There is currently (2011) a project underway to update these records.

GIS Portals

  • Maine Department of Environmental Protection. GIS Data and Maps. Map projects from DEP and other state departments viewable through Google Earth, sometimes with associated downloadable Shapefiles. Includes data on some marine managed areas and Maine Tax Parcels. (web page)
  • Maine Department of Marine Resources. Coastal Maine Maps, Datasets, and Aerial Photos, including Aerial Photography of the Maine Coast (1997-92), Aquaculture Sites (current), Lobster Zone Maps, and Shellfish Closures. (web page)
  • Maine GeoPortal. The GeoLibrary was released in early 2011. It provides one-stop shopping for all Maine GIS data, whether it is state, municipal, non-profit, private, academic and more. The GeoLibrary Geoportal is running in beta mode (February 2011). (web site)
  • Maine Office of GIS (MEGIS). Follow link to “Data” for downloadable spatial data and metadata. Follow link to “Maps” for interactive online maps and selected maps in PDF or JPG format. Interactive online maps include Aerial Photography Viewer, Basemap Viewer, Land Use Regulatory Commission Parcel Viewer, Maine DOT Survey Control Points Web Mapping Application, and Maine Geological Survey Publications Search. Also listed are links to the map index pages of the two following departments of state government. (web site)

Reference and Supporting Data

Cadastral Reference Grid

None used. According to Maine’s SMCD Inventory for TNC, the Maine Department of Conservation and Maine Department of Marine Resources have developed a coastal grid for orthophotography and shoreline surveys, but this grid has not been used for specifically cadastral purposes.

Shorelines

According to Maine’s SMCD Inventory for TNC, a high water shoreline may be available from the Maine Geological Survey. (web page)

An available high water shoreline that has been digitized from USGS 1:24,000 quads at Maine GIS, although it is labeled as archival data.

Data Coast
Access View metadata and download ESRI shapefile. (web page)
Detail Digitized MHW shoreline from USGS 1:24,000 quadrangle maps. Includes some New Hampshire and New Brunswick shoreline. Labeled as archival data.
Distributor Maine Office of GIS.

Coastal Imagery

An Aerial Photography Viewer is available, allowing viewing of aerial imagery taken at multiple dates and resolutions, and covering varying regions of Maine (web page). Much or all of this data is also available for download or to view metadata. (web page) Besides the low tide orthoimagery listed below, other series include NAIP 2006, 2007, and 2009, and SPOT 1998 and 2004.

Data Low Tide Orthoimagery
Access View metadata and download ESRI shapefile (web page), or use Aerial Photography Viewer (web page).
Detail Orthophotography taken at low tide for varying regions of the coast, flown in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009.
Distributor Maine Office of GIS.

Bathymetry

In addition to the two bathymetric datasets listed below, the OED Compilation (pdf) lists bathymetric contours for the Gulf of Maine created by USGS from a DEM based on multiple input layers (2003), additional contours of the Gulf of Maine created by USGS (no date), and three layers derived from these two.

Data Bathy30
Access View metadata and download ESRI shapefile (web page).
Detail Raster dataset of bathymetry and intertidal cover types for the Gulf of Maine developed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Gulf of Maine Program.
Distributor Maine Office of GIS.
Data Bathym100
Access View metadata and download ESRI shapefile (web page).
Detail Bathymetry lines for the Gulf of Maine at a scale of 1:100,000 showing depth in 10 meter intervals. This dataset was developed by the Maine Geological Survey using USGS 30 x 60 minute series topographic-bathymetric maps.
Distributor Maine Office of GIS.

Marine Jurisdictional Boundaries

While some versions of Maine’s county and town boundaries show marine jurisdictions3, the seaward boundary is set simply to close the polygon. The seaward extent of county and town jurisdiction is not clearly defined in law.

Data Political Boundaries [metwp24]
Access View metadata and download ESRI shapefile (web page).
Detail State, county, and municipal boundaries, including marine boundaries. Developed from USGS 7.5 minute map series, for use at 1:24,000 scale. 2010.
Distributor Maine Office of GIS.
Data State and County Boundaries [cnty100]
Access View metadata and download ESRI shapefile (web page).
Detail Mapped at 1:100,000 scale. Boundaries shown may end at the coastline.
Distributor Maine Office of GIS.
Data State and County Boundaries [cnty24]
Access View metadata and download ESRI shapefile (web page).
Detail Mapped at 1:24,000 scale. Created from metwp24 (cited above) selecting arcs coded as state, county, and coastline. 2010.
Distributor Maine Office of GIS.

The term submerged lands is used here to refer to tidal waters lying between the high water mark and the seaward extent of the state’s jurisdictional limit, which for most states is three nautical miles (i.e., the Submerged Lands Act Boundary). See the Submerged Lands definitions page for specific terminology used in each state.

Submerged Lands Boundaries

Maine’s SMCD Inventory for TNC indicates that the Maine Department of Conservation has a depiction of state submerged lands, although it is not available from a central data repository.

Data Water Quality Classes of Coastal Waters [wqcoastl and wqcoastp]
Access View metadata and download ESRI shapefile. (web page)
Detail No direct spatial representation was found online depicting submerged lands boundaries. However, an approximation may be derivable from this data set, which contains polygons indicating water quality classifications of coastal and tidal waters (and islands) from mean high water and the inland extent of tidal influence to the seaward limit of state territorial waters. Tiled by watershed. Far eastern and western watershed tiles include waters in New Hampshire and New Brunswick, respectively.
Distributor Maine Office of GIS.

Ownership

Submerged Lands Parcels

Intertidal lands in Maine are attached to coastal upland ownership. According to Maine’s SMCD Inventory, the Maine State Planning Office and Department of Conservation have developed delineations of federal and state-owned submerged lands that should be publicly available.

General Property and Parcel Data

Data Parcels [parcels and parcels_ut]
Access Download ESRI shapefile. (web page)
Detail Parcels for 70 or more municipalities (including at least the following in the Coastal Zone: Arrowsic, Bath, Biddeford, Bowdoinham, Brooksville, Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, Ellsworth, Falmouth, Freeport, Friendship, Islesboro, Kittery, Ogunquit, Phippsburg, Richmond, Rockport, Saco, Searsport, South Berwick, South Portland, Topsham, Verona, Waldoboro, West Bath, Whiting, Yarmouth) and for the state’s unincorporated areas, townships and plantations. Map/Block/Lot numbers and towns are identified, but no ownership data. Data conforms to MEGIS digital submission standards. 2003-2010.
Distributor Maine Office of GIS.
Data Parcels in Unorganized Territory [parcels_ut]
Access Download ESRI shapefile. (web page)
Detail Parcels from townships within Maine Revenue Services unorganized territories as well as individual plantation and town parcel information within Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) jurisdiction. Some data is infrequently updated and may be more than 5 years old. 2002-2010.
Distributor Maine Office of GIS.
Data Maine Tax Parcels
Access View using Google Earth. (web page)
Detail No metadata found. May be another version of Parcels, described above. Inspection of parcels in a few coastal towns shows that parcel boundaries are drawn at the high water line, even though legal boundaries extend to low water.
Distributor Maine Department of Environmental Protection Geographic Information System.
Data Land Use Regulatory Commission Zoning and Parcel Viewer
Access View parcels and zone designations searching by town or parcel. (web page)
Detail The LURC controls land use in Maine’s townships, plantations, and unincorporated areas—over half the state, including some coastal islands and Edmunds and Trescott Townships on the downeast coast.
Distributor Maine Department of Conservation, Land Use Regulatory Commission.

Public and Conservation Lands

Data Maine Conservation Lands Ownership [conserved_lands and mecnslnd_new]
Access View metadata and download ESRI shapefile. (web page)
Detail Conservation lands in federal, state, municipal and non-profit ownership with easements. Boundaries are approximate. 2010.
Distributor Maine Office of GIS.
Data Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands Conservation and Recreation Lands
Access View via Google Earth. (web page)
Detail No metadata found. May contain same data as [conserved_lands], described above.
Distributor Maine Department of Environmental Protection Geographic Information System.

Leases and Other Use Authorizations

Aquaculture and Shellfish

Data Aquaculture Lease Inventory.
Access View non-spatial summary data, lease lists, and static regional maps. (web page)
Detail Finfish, standard shellfish, experimental shellfish, and limited purpose leases.
Distributor Maine Department of Marine Resources.

Other Use Authorizations

Maine’s SMCD Inventory for TNC indicates that the State Planning Office has spatial data on alternative energy sites, marine cables and pipelines, and dredge disposal areas, which would require place-based use authorizations. The Maine Department of Marine Resources has spatial data on sea grass restoration projects. We have not determined whether sea grass restoration requires place-based use authorization.

Also, consult the Submerged Lands Program, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (web site), which grants submerged lands leases and easements.

Marine Managed Areas

A number of data layers available through the Maine GIS Data Catalog appear to represent marine managed areas (web page).

  • Essential Habitat per the Maine Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA)
    • Piping Plover and Least Tern Sites [ehplvtrn]
    • Roseate Tern Sites [ehtern]
  • Shorezone [shorezone_iwwh_new]
  • Status of Molluscan Shellfish Growing Areas Classification [class03e and class03w]
  • Mussel Seed Conservation Areas (points) [seed]
  • Coastal Seabird Nesting Islands per NRPA [sni]

Several Google Interactive Maps maintained by the Maine Department of Environment, Bureau of Land and Water, also appear to represent marine managed areas (web page).

  • NRPA Bird Habitats
    • Tidal Wading Waterfowl
    • Shorebird Feeding and Roosting
    • Seabird Nesting Islands
  • Overboard Discharges, Bacterial Closures, and Molluscan Shellfish Habitats

The Maine Department of Marine Resources maintains maps of Maine Lobster Zones in JPG format (web page), and two frequently updated shellfish closure inventories. Both give legal notices and maps of closure areas in PDF format.

  • Maine Bacterial Closures: Shellfish Pollution Area Inventory (web page)
  • Maine PSP (Red Tide) Closures: Shellfish Biotoxin Area Inventory (web page)

Maine’s SMCD Inventory for TNC (pdf) indicates that spatial data is also available from Maine GIS for the following marine managed areas:

  • Scallop Closure Areas
  • Shellfish Beds
  • Navigable Harbors
  • Military Zones

In addition, the Maine State Planning Office (SPO) compiled an extensive collection of spatial data for the Ocean Energy Demonstration Siting Initiative in the Gulf of Maine (pdf). The compilation list gives a year, data source or steward, and proprietary status for each layer. Layers that may indicate or delineate marine managed areas include the following:

Description Year Data Source or Steward Proprietary
Submarine cables known to MMS 2003 US Minerals Management Service No
Portland deepdraft shipping approach 2009 Maine SPO No
Possible harbor and port approaches in Maine from MMS ? US Minerals Management Service No
USCG designated approach to Penobscot Bay 2009 Maine SPO No
USCG designated approach to the Sheepscot River 2009 Maine SPO No
All navigable harbors in Maine 2009 US Minerals Management Service No
Dumping grounds in the Gulf of Maine 2007 USGS No
Shipwrecks in Maine waters (points) ? US Minerals Management Service No
Scenic Resource Sites as defined by Maine’s Natural Resource Protection Act (points) 2003 Maine SPO No
Sites on National Historic Registry in Maine (points) 2009 Maine SPO No
State Parks 2009 Maine Department of Conservation No
Lobster Management Zones, A-G ? Maine Marine Resources No
Acadia National Park 2008 US National Park Service No
Islands and coastal townships under the jurisdiction of the Land Use Regulatory Commission 2009 Maine SPO No
Areas identified as suitable for ocean energy development 2009 Maine SPO No
Ocean Energy Demonstration Sites as identified by Maine DOC and SPO 2009 Maine SPO No

The National Marine Protected Areas Center’s MPA Inventory (web page) includes the following marine areas managed for conservation within Maine state waters:

Gulf of Maine Rolling Closure Area 1 National Marine Fisheries Service
Mid-Coast Closure Area National Marine Fisheries Service
Northeast Closure Area National Marine Fisheries Service
Northern Inshore Trap/Pot Waters Area National Marine Fisheries Service
Northern Nearshore Trap/Pot Waters Area National Marine Fisheries Service
Other Northeast Gillnet Waters Area National Marine Fisheries Service
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve Wells Reserve Management Authority and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association
Pond Island National Wildlife Refuge US Fish and Wildlife Service
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge US Fish and Wildlife Service
Acadia National Park National Park Service
Harrington River Seed Mussel Conservation Area Maine Department of Marine Resources
Jordan River Seed Mussel Conservation Area Maine Department of Marine Resources
Narraguagus Bay Seed Mussel Conservation Area Maine Department of Marine Resources
West Bay Seed Mussel Conservation Area Maine Department of Marine Resources

The National Marine Protected Areas Center also maintains a De Facto MPA Inventory for marine areas managed for purposes other than conservation. It includes 29 marine areas managed by federal authorities within Maine state waters. Most of these are Special Anchorage Areas or Anchorage Grounds managed by the US Coast Guard. Others include restricted areas and danger zones managed by the US Navy or other agencies. A report summarizes the De Facto MPA inventory, and a downloadable shapefile for the inventory may soon be available. (web page)

Local Parcel Information

Each of Maine’s eight coastal counties has a registry of deeds that maintains official records of real property transactions. The online registries generally consist of indexes, scanned document images, and sometimes plan indexes, which may be viewed online, printed, or downloaded. The online registries have varying degrees of historical completeness, and often charge fees for access or printing. Assessment data and tax parcel maps are maintained by municipalities. See Municipality Information below.

Cumberland County (web site)

Deed Records (web page)

Hancock County (web site)

Deed Records (web page)

Knox County (web site)

Deed Records (web page)

Lincoln County (web site)

Deed Records (web page)

Sagadahoc County (web site)

Deed Records (web page)

Waldo County (web site)

Deed Records (web page)

Washington County (web site)

Deed Records – No data found.

York County (web site)

Deed Records (web page)

Municipality Information

Assessment Data & Parcels

In Maine, real property is assessed by local municipalities, which maintain valuation records and tax parcel maps. For unorganized territories, the county assesses property. As Maine has 149 cities and towns in its Coastal Zone (list of municipalities in Coastal Zone), we were not able to investigate the availability of online assessment data and parcel maps for each. However, 21 Coastal Zone municipalities have assessor’s databases online at Vision Appraisal Technology’s (VAT) Online Databases (web site). Four of these town databases include tax parcel maps. Municipal parcel maps collected by the Maine Office of GIS (MEGIS) are listed under Statewide Information, above. Below is a table showing those towns with digital assessor’s data or parcel maps available through these two sources.

Municipality   VAT     MEGIS  
Bar Harbor x
Bath x
Boothbay x
Camden x
Cape Elizabeth x
Cumberland x x
Eliot x
Ellsworth x x
Falmouth x
Freeport x x
Harpswell x
Kennebunkport x
Kittery x x
Mount Desert x
Ogunquit x
Rockland x
Rockport x x
Saco x
South Portland x
South Thomaston x
Verona x
Wells x
Yarmouth x x
York x

For anyone who wishes to investigate the availability of assessor’s data and tax parcels for the Maine coast, the State of Maine maintains a helpful directory of local governments, with contact and website information. County entries include the name of the County Register of Deeds and links to entries for municipalities within the county. Municipal entries include the names of Assessors.

Some towns, such as Bar Harbor, Bath, and Ellsworth, have tax maps or assessor’s data available online at their own websites. Bath, for instance, has online assessor’s data and tax parcel maps (in PDF format), both on the City of Bath website. Bath also has tax parcel maps that can be viewed online and downloaded in GIS format on a Delorme Xmap web service.

 

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1 Interview with Matthew Nixon, Senior Planner, Maine Coastal Program, Maine State Planning Office, May 17, 2010.

2 Written inventory submitted July 1, 2010.

3 Wikipedia, Maine, 2011, Internet (web site)

 

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