Development of the MLCCS began in 1998 during efforts to conduct a natural resource inventory and develop management plans for a portion of the Mississippi River corridor in the metro region. Existing data from aerial and satellite photos was too coarse, and it was presented in terms of land use -- such as industrial, commercial, residential -- rather than land cover. Such data offered little information about the amount or type of vegetation or the amount of artificial surfaces covering a parcel of property.
To address these shortcomings, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources convened a steering committee composed of representatives from the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Corps of Engineers, the Dakota Soil and Water Conservation District, Ramsey County Parks, Friends of the Mississippi River and Great River Greening. This committee created a hybrid system, incorporating the National Vegetation Classification System (NVCS) and the Minnesota Natural Heritage native plant community types, along with a cultural classification system, to distinguish among different types and amounts of land cover, vegetation and impervious surfaces.