Soils Data Description

Montana Soils Database

Restoration Planning: Soils data are essential to design of restoration & remediation projects. In addition, erosion risk, reclamation ease, runoff potential (surface contamination risk), groundwater contamination risk (CEC, permeability, depth to saturated soils), are all key to prioritizing restoration projects. Hydric soils will help with wetland delineation.

Data Description: The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service maintains a number of soils databases (including SSURGO and NASIS). The available soils data likely to be of greatest use in watershed analysis and planning is at the 1:24000 scale and is available through NRIS along with an ArcView extension called the Soils Data Viewer. This software interprets soils data and presents the interpretations in reports and maps. Currently, the user must download the soils data and the Soil Data Viewer and run the interpretations (hardware requirements are explained at the web site). Eventually, some of the maps of interpreted soils data will appear on NRIS's online mapper.
Location of sample sites/areas assessed:  The map of counties with completed digitized soils data can be seen on the website below. In the upper Clark Fork basin, soils data are available for Missoula, Powell, and Granite counties.
Nature of location information in database: The data are georeferenced and are in the state projection used by NRIS.
Time frame: The soils databases SSURGO and NASIS are still under development and will be maintained by NRCS.
Parameters measured & methods used: Soil data and interpretations particularly key to watershed analysis and restoration planning include: erodibility factors, slope, available water capacity, percent clay, percent organic matter, bulk density, hydraulic conductivity, sodium absorption ratio, cation exchange capacity, pH, frost free days, septic system suitability, flood frequency, depth to saturated soil, hydric soils, erosion hazard, reclamation ease, permeability, runoff potential, depth to soil restriction for buildings. Many more parameters are available. See relevant references for information on methods, etc.
Quality of data:  Data collected by soils professionals using standard soils methods; suitable for use in management.
Relevant references: NASIS info and user's guides at SSURGO user's guide at Soil Data Viewer user's guide at
Responsible party contact:
At NRIS, contact: Duane Anderson  
Natural Resource Information System, Montana State Library.
1515 E. 6th Avenue, Helena, MT, 59620-1800       406-444-5356.
At NRCS: Tom Potter, 406- 587-6968


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