The Conservation Innovation Center (CIC) was established in 2013 to use cutting-edge technology to empower data-driven conservation and restoration. Just as the use of technology changed the corporate world and made it more efficient, technology can do the same for the conservation movement. Through national and international partnerships, the CIC makes this data accessible for restoration professionals to practice precision conservation, yielding greater impact with fewer resources. Read about news coverage of the CIC.

Enhanced Flow Path Data

Precision Conservation

Precision conservation—projects at the right place, the right scale, the right size, the right time, and making sure they are working—is going to redefine how landscape conservation is approached. Instead of sweeping acquisitions or all-encompassing legislation, we can use the latest high-resolution datasets to conduct advanced geospatial analysis that allows us to better target and implement on-the-ground a...

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The Chesapeake Conservancy is pioneering the production of large, high-resolution flow path datasets. Through our partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP), the Conservancy continues to develop innovative methods to map streams across the landscape using detailed elevation and terrain information together with the Conservancy’s high-resolution land cover. With support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Conservation Innovation Center (CIC) completed the first large-scale enhanced flow path dataset for the Susquehanna watershed in 2016, and has since created flow path data for multiple other geographies.

The enhanced flow path data is providing CBP and partner organizations with the power to practice precision conservation – putting the right practices and the right skills in the right places at the right time – by enabling them to make effective and impactful decisions about where to target their efforts. It has allowed the CIC to not only identify and prioritize restoration and conservation areas, but also to help partners throughout the watershed save time and money implementing Best Management Practices such as forested riparian buffers.


Application: Riparian Forest Buffers

The CIC leverages the combination of the enhanced flow path data and high-resolution land cover data to identify opportunity areas for planting riparian forest buffers within a specified distance of the flow paths. Once these restoration opportunity areas (ROAs) are identified, they can be characterized by the land cover composition and modeled sediment and nutrient loading of the upstream land area that drains through the ROA. The CIC has worked with multiple partner organizations to create tailored prioritizations of potential ROAs that target projects that will result in maximum water quality benefits.

Informational webinar


Data background

Understand the context of the creation of the enhanced flow path data for an example case in Northern Virginia.

How the data was made

Introduce yourself to the dataset and geospatial techniques used to make the enhanced flow path data.

Sample use cases

Preview real-world applications of the enhanced flow path data.

Download Documentation

Land Cover Accuracy Assessment

Read about our detailed accuracy assessment methods and results for the high-resolution land cover data (incorporated in the enhanced flow path dataset) in this Chesapeake Conservancy report.

Pennsylvania Streams Accuracy Assessment

Read about our accuracy assessment methods and results for Pennsylvania stream mapping in this Chesapeake Conservancy report. This report address accuracy of flow paths prior to the incorporation of high-resolution land cover.