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USGS Chesapeake Bay Activities

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Land Remote Sensing Program

Geographic Analysis and Monitoring Program (GAM)

Chesapeake Bay Watershed photograph

USGS Works to Monitor and Map Land Changes

Thumb size map of the Chesapeake Bay area

Monitoring and the subsequent mapping of land cover provides a source of information to help understand changes that can affect all the major Chesapeake Bay restoration goals—sustain fish and wildlife, recover habitat, restore water quality, and conserve high-priority lands. Accurate land-use information is needed to understand changes on land (such as the amount of chemicals being applied in suburban and agricultural areas) and to verify the management practices being implemented to restore the bay and its watershed.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) activities to address these management needs include:

The USGS is working with Federal, State, and academic partners to develop land-cover data that will provide critical information for the Chesapeake Monitoring Alliance. The USGS is helping to implement the initial focus of the monitoring alliance by developing, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more recent land-cover data that will be used in water-quality and habitat models. As part of the analysis of land cover, the USGS is improving assessments of the amount of impervious surface in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which impacts water quality and habitat in streams. Finally, the USGS is working with CBP partners to use data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency to improve reporting of conservation practice data and use it to help explain water-quality change.

Conowingo Dam aerial shot, W. McPherson, USGS

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