State Agency, Environmental Groups, and Universities Partner to Implement Precision Conservation in Pennsylvania

NFWF Funds High Tech, High Impact Project

Partners for the project at Penn State Univ’s Larson Ag Research Ctr. For the NFW grant announcement (from the left): Harry Campbell, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Matt Keefer, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natrual Resources, and Carly Dean, Chesapeake Conservancy. Other partners not pictured: Susquehanna University and Bloomsburg University.

State College, PA – Today, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)awarded funding to the Chesapeake Conservancy for a major restoration and conservation initiative in the Susquehanna River watershed to be conducted in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural ResourcesSusquehanna UniversityBloomsburg University, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  The three-year initiative will pilot a new approach to conservation with local partners in Pennsylvania’s Centre and Clinton counties to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution from nonpoint sources to improve water quality and scenic beauty.  Once complete, the project may serve as a national model.

The NFWF grant provides funding to help local partners plan their restoration projects using new high-resolution land cover and LiDAR datasets to better determine precisely where projects will create the highest-impact opportunities for conservation and restoration. The project will also help measure progress toward achieving the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Program Agreement goals.

“We are very grateful to NFWF for funding this joint proposal. We’re excited to work with our partners in Centre and Clinton counties to showcase the power of new technology and data to help guide efficient decision making for the use of limited restoration funding and to measure our collective progress toward our goals,” Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said. “We live in a brave new world where transformative technologies are the great opportunity of our time.  This grant will allow us to use these innovations to enhance our collective impact for environmental conservation.”

The Chesapeake Conservancy and partners have spent the last 18 months working with the Chesapeake Bay Program to produce 1 meter by 1 meter resolution land cover data for the entire 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay watershed. This is one of the largest, high-resolution land cover datasets ever produced and will be open data available to all government agencies, nonprofits and individuals across the watershed.  With willing landowners, the NFWF project will make use of this revolutionary data set and enhance the implementation of Best Management Practices in the highest priority locations for Clinton and Centre counties.

“Using the new high resolution data, through partnerships such as this one, makes it possible to focus actions where they will achieve the greatest water quality benefits with a minimal amount of action,” Chesapeake Conservancy Director of Conservation Technology Jeffrey Allenby said. “This information, with 900x the resolution of previously available data, will fundamentally change how conservation and restoration planning are completed and will enhance everyone’s efficiency and effectiveness.”

“One of the unique things about this partnership is the pairing of technology with restoration activities on-the-ground to help people identify the right places, the right scale and the right practices to produce real measurable results,” Allenby continued.

“Susquehanna University is delighted to be in this new partnership with the Chesapeake Conservancy,” Susquehanna University Vice President for University Relations Ronald Cohen said. “Our Freshwater Research Institute, funded by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and its growing research agenda involving local, state and national agencies, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations, brings relationships that should be advantageous to the Conservancy and the work of the grant.”