Land Ownership and Access

Always make sure you have permission to access the area you want to survey!

It is your responsibility to follow local laws and regulations. While you should try to survey all the different types of habitat in a block, this is not permission to trespass. Survey on public land first and then ask landowners for access if you cannot access all habitat types. We provide letters to help you introduce the project to landowners and a thank you letter to share your sightings should you gain access.

Landowner letters

Public Land

There is no single map layer that covers all of New York and indicates public access. However, there are a few tools that will help you determine what lands are public and for which lands you need to request permission.

Mobile Apps


  • NYS Parcel Map (tax maps; incomplete coverage) [Additional tax parcel maps can be found by googling your county, accessing the maps either online or at a town hall, and then contacting the landowner via the yellow pages or by knocking on their door.]
  • DECinfo Locator (interactive map of state lands and trails)


  • Open Access Lands kmz (large file, 11MB) [A compilation of open-access state and federal lands, land trust properties, and other protected areas. Some sites require a permit or fee.]


If you know of other helpful resources, please let us know!