Nature Near Schools

A Discovery Map

Welcome to Nature Near Schools: A Discovery Map

from The Trust for Public Land

This interactive map illustrates which K-12 schools in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont benefit from accessible, conserved open space, and where there are gaps. You can use this tool to locate or imagine new spaces near your school for outdoor learning and community connection.

Special thanks to our partners for their guidance in creating this tool: Maine Math and Science AssociationRiseVTShelburne Farms, and Teens to Trails

How can this map help?

This interactive and user-friendly map draws upon GIS data to:

  • Help users discover accessible outdoors around schools. The map shows what conserved open space is currently publicly accessible and within walking distance (less than or equal to ½-mile by surface roads and sidewalks) of every K-12 school in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. This discovery function can help educators, administrators, outdoor education programs, and other community-based organizations see where students can get outside for learning and play, close to school.
  • Help users identify nature gaps: The map helps communities, conservation organizations, towns and other organizations identify what schools and communities lack conserved, publicly-accessible open space within walking distance of the school, so as to close these gaps.
  • Help prioritize opportunity areasThe map pinpoints what schools in the region lack access and should be prioritized for outreach and exploration, based on the following health and equity indicators:
  • % of students eligible for free and reduced lunch
  • % people of color in the census block group
  • School-level physical activity indicators
  • Community-level mental health indicators

Type in your location to discover what lies within reach of your school or community. Click on the “Layer List” icon at the bottom of the map to turn on other layers of enriching contextual data of the landscape, including mapped public trail systems in New Hampshire and Vermont (trail information not available statewide in Maine), climate resilience corridors, and land cover types.

Please also check out our resource directory for additional support and resources for unleashing nature as teacher from experts and programs across Northern New England. We welcome your questions, comments, and feedback. Please contact us at

Statement of Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the lands depicted through this map are the stolen homelands of Indigenous peoples who have stewarded them for thousands of years, including nations of the Wabanki Confederacy, and others.  Place-based education and access to land, which this map aims to support, must begin with a deep understanding of the true histories of indigenous land loss and current realities of indigenous people’s relationship to land. We hope this acknowledgement can be a small step towards an effort to restore access to, and sovereignty over, these homelands and raise awareness among others as to the rich history and knowledge maintained by Indigenous communities for generations. We encourage all users of the map to understand these histories and current contexts of the land and consider how that impacts decisions you may make as you use the tool. We at The Trust for Public Land endeavor to do the same.