Our team has been busy developing planning tools for use by our partners and members throughout the watershed.
Susquehanna Basin Climate Change Resiliency GIS Toolkit
A series of ESRI-shapefile format layers showing locations potentially suitable for installation of Best Management Practices to reduce farm and watershed vulnerability to climate change. Locations represent potential areas that under the right circumstances may be suitable for installation of BMP’s to add flood storage, prevent erosion, reduce in-stream temperatures. BMP locations have been prioritized based on landscape position to maximize their efficacy for assisting farms with climate adaptation. For instance – larger areas in headwater positions are generally favored over smaller downstream sites. Locations closer to farms are prioritized over those farther away. General efficiencies for different types of BMP’s have been assigned based on peer-reviewed literatures.
Best Management practices include wetland restoration targets, wetland protection targets, riparian buffer restoration targets – including both upland and wetland conditions, steep-slope reforestation zones, as well as locations potentially suitable for adding flood storage through pond construction. The base-resolution of data varies somewhat between BMP’s – with wetland restoration targets being produced at 10m resolution, and other layers generally being produced at 30m resolution. As such potential zones for BMP implementation are approximate, and may need to fit around local on the ground modifications.
The Susquehanna Basin Climate Change Resiliency GIS Toolkit is available as a stand alone arcGIS map package here. Though please note the file is very large, 294Mb. A report summarizing the climate change resiliency project is available here.
The following are screen shots of the map package data:
Frequently Asked Questions
How was the tool developed?
The tool was developed using available GIS layers describing terrain, soils, slope, and landcover. Riparian buffer gaps were identified from the 2011 NLCD dataset. Existing wetlands were pulled from the National Wetland Inventory. Steep slope areas were pulled from a 10m resolution elevation file and cross-referenced with unvegetated areas in the 2011 NLCD dataset. Potential wetland restoration and pond creation areas were modeled from GIS variables.
Should installed BMP’s perfectly follow those outlined in the tool?
The tool is no replacement for sound on-site assessments. Generally speaking BMP’s may be installed within the zones identified – but may not for a variety of reasons span the entire areas identified. It is the role of the planner and farmer to work together to identify projects that best fit needs.
Why doesn’t the tool include BMP’s such as soil improvement strategies?
The tool was restricted to practices that could be identified remotely using GIS tools. While the tool does not directly address soil management practices, and other modifcations that do not change landcover type, we encourage technicians to explore these other practices and opportunities with farms as appropriate.
My farm isn’t in the tool?
Given that the tool spans the entire NY portion of the Susquehanna River Basin, the tool infers farm location based on landcover type in the 2011 National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD). Because BMP’s were identified from remotely sensed data, there may be situations were locations suitable for BMP installation are not identified in the tool. We encourage district technicians, farmers, and other natural resource managers using the tool to consider appropriate BMP’s even in locations not identified by the tool.
What are the tools strengths?
The tool is intended really to aid the districts with identifying areas with high densities of farms that are in need of best management practices that together may have an above average impact on improving natural resource resiliency to climate change. Headwater areas are emphasized in the tool to provide down-stream flood reduction benefits. Moreover the tool is intended to allow district staff to quickly scan for areas where efforts can be focused – i.e., it identifies hotspots of areas in need of BMP’s. Such a focus can potentially reduce equipment (e.g., fence post pounder) mobilization costs by identifying a suite of projects in close proximity to one another. In general this tool’s strength will be as a general screening tool intended to assist districts with quickly identifying potential work areas.
What are the tool’s weaknesses?
Whenever using remotely sensed data – recognize that the tool is intended to help the technician, but not be a replacement for their judgement. GIS-based tools are generally intended to complement local on the ground knowledge. The tool does have some resolution limitations, and more detailed on-site planning will likely be required to deliver many of the projects that may ultimately take shape.