University of Vermont

Computer science students create land record database for VT Fish & Wildlife Department

Release Date: 05-14-2007

Author: Dawn Densmore

Chris Egner and Wes Riley, two undergraduate students in the Department of Computer Science, have collaborated with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department to create a database for the Department's land acquisition records.

The VT Fish & Wildlife Department owns, or has rights to, more than 100,000 acres of Wildlife Management Areas, stream banks, recreational access areas and critical wildlife habitat spread across the state. Effective management of these lands is complicated by the fact that this acreage is comprised of hundreds and hundreds of individual parcels acquired over the past seventy years through a variety of funding and conservation programs, often with different goals or management requirements.

Until Enger and Riley stepped up to help, the Department did not have a centralized, electronic parcel-level repository to store and organize information and paperwork such as deeds, federal grant agreements, leases, management agreements, easements, restrictions and survey information, as well as decades of correspondence about various parcels.

"Working with Chris and Wes has been great," said Jon Kart, project manager for the Department. "Their knowledge and skills, combined with their willingness to tackle a huge project, has kept this project chugging along. The result is a tool that puts vital information at the fingertips of wildlife biologists and refuge managers, so that they can better care for some of Vermont's most important wildlife habitat."

"This has been a great project," says Egner. "We started with two databases, the first in Microsoft Access creating forms and reports, and the second in MySQL. We used a simple search engine in PHP to allow the Fish & Wildlife Department to quickly find parcels based on certain search criteria."

"Projects like this benefit both students and the State of Vermont," says Bob Erickson, senior lecturer in Computer Science, and faculty advisor.

For more information on this project, visit Vermont's Wildlife Action Plan or contact Bob Erickson (, 802-656-8137).