Jun 14

Wisconsin LiDAR data compatibility

A number of events have occurred over the last several years that are important to be aware of when using Wisconsin LiDAR .las datasets in GIS software. Here is a timeline of these events:


  • LAS version 1.4 becomes the industry standard point cloud file format



  • Wisconsin countywide lidar required to meet USGS OGC well-known-text (WKT) standards
  • ArcGIS v10.4 software has issues projecting .las files with USGS compliant WISCRS WKT


So what’s the problem? If you are using .las datasets in Wisconsin from 2016 or later, be aware that ESRI may not be reading the .las files properly. The most common error is an ‘inconsistent extent warning’. Some users can load the .las data with a projection warning, but it cannot be viewed in ArcMap. The main issue is that ESRI is expecting a standard parallel value that is not part of the USGS WKT. See screenshots below for a comparison between USGS and ESRI coordinate definitions:

USGS projection information:


ESRI projection information:


How can you help? We have made ESRI aware of this issue. If you are experiencing an issue with properly reading .las files in ArcMap v10.4 or later, please contact your ESRI representative and refer to case #01934862, which we have initiated on this topic. If you are experiencing this issue with Wisconsin LiDAR data produced in 2016 or later, please contact us, and let us know the specifics.


Matt Vinopal: vinopalm@ayresassociates.com

Zach Nienow: nienowz@ayresassociates.com


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  1. Calvin Lawrence

    Good afternoon. I have been trying to create a workable DEM using Washburn’s 2016 LiDAR data. I have been getting the spatial extent error. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

    Calvin Lawrence
    Wisconsin DNR
    Wisconsin Wetland Inventory

    1. Jason Krueger

      Hi Calvin, I am happy to hear that you’ve found this article useful! Please feel free to drop us a line anytime if you have questions about the Washburn dataset or any others around the state.
      – Jason

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