Features to Enhance Science for Land Conservation
USGS Focuses on Science for Land Conservation
The Chesapeake Bay Program has had a long-standing focus on conserving lands that provide benefit to wildlife, water quality, and people. The President’s strategy for protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed (Executive Order 13508) establishes a goal of protecting an additional 2 million acres of high-priority lands by 2025. Achieving the land conservation goal set out in this Executive Order requires information on which lands should be set aside for conservation. Partners in the Chesapeake Bay Program would benefit from a shared understanding of what landscapes citizens and land-protection communities value most and how agencies charged to protect and manage them can do so most effectively.
The National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are working in a partnership with NatureServe to produce a Chesapeake Bay application for their LandScope America project. The partnership is developing a watershed-wide, geographic information system (GIS)-based land conservation priority support tool. The tool will build on innovative geospatial applications such as Maryland’s Greenprint and Virginia’s Conservation Lands Needs Assessment. The tool will help to facilitate collaboration among State, Federal, local, and nongovernmental organization partners and will support sound land conservation planning, decisionmaking, and implementation throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. USGS activities include:
- Enhancing the Chesapeake LandScope decision tool.
- Using results from the USGS Chesapeake Bay Land Change Model to help assess the vulnerability of lands to future development.
- Improving monitoring of conserved lands to better assess progress toward the land conservation goal.