Local Planning Projects

GIS enables organizations to prioritize their work by uncovering patterns in the landscape and identifying spatial relationships between datasets. With the advent of high-resolution data, it is more possible than ever to conduct this analysis at the local-level in order to inform conservation and restoration projects. The Chesapeake Conservancy is taking advantage of this increased data availability by working with partners to develop new desktop and web-based planning tools to increase their ability to allocate limited resources.

Case study: York County Stormwater BMP Prioritization Tool

In 2015, the York County Planning Commission (YCPC) adopted the York County Regional Chesapeake Bay Pollutant Reduction Plan (Regional CBPRP) as a key strategy for achieving water quality goals outlined in the York County Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) and help municipalities comply with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) MS4 permits. As a part of the Regional CBPRP, participating municipalities pool resources and submit proposals for Best Management Practice (BMP) projects, as well as reports required by DEP.

The YCPC faced significant challenges in collecting project information from municipalities. In particular, project submission was paper-based, formatting was inconsistent, and pollutant load reduction estimates varied drastically. The Chesapeake Conservancy helped the YCPC update their reporting system by developing a web application that simplifies the process of calculating pollutant load reductions and allows municipalities to submit their project information electronically. The application takes advantage of the Conservancy’s high resolution land cover data and LIDAR-derived digital surface models in order to generate the maps necessary for municipal staff to easily calculate load reductions.

To help implement the new system, Conservancy staff produced written documentation, recorded a series of tutorial webinars, conducted a “train-the-trainer” session, and held a training workshop for municipal staff. The YCPC successfully used the new application during its summer 2016 project submission period and indicated the process was faster and easier than before.