Saturday, 15 July 2006

Chesapeake Bay Riparian Forest and Wetland Buffer Inventory and Analysis Using a Geographic Information Systems Approach.

Raymond C. Crew and Rick L. Day. Penn State Univ, 116 ASI Bldg., University Park, PA 16802

Maintaining healthy forests and wetlands in riparian zones greatly benefits the ecological health of water features. A great barrier to maintaining and establishing such buffers in the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed has been understanding where such buffers are, are missing, or have recently been established or lost. The Chesapeake Bay Program funded this study to inventory and analyze the riparian land cover conditions utilizing a geographic information systems approach. The study has successfully produced a riparian buffer inventory useful at the regional level. This inventory will allow activities designed to protect, establish, and improve riparian buffers to be focused on a State and Bay wide level. The project was restrained by the need to use currently available datasets and widely distributed software. This project also produced a time series analysis, using the same methods and input data only differing in the year of the land cover data. This inventory shows a great variability in the buffer conditions throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The year 1992 inventory showed the percent of streams properly buffered within major sub-watershed from 23% to 93%. The year 2000 inventory showed a range 29% to 93%. These results are reported at multiple scales of sub-watersheds, at the county level and at the state level. The results are reported for buffers consisting of forest and buffers consisting of forest or wetlands.

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