Chesapeake Conservancy develops technology for James River restoration work

chesapeake conservancyTo support the Virginia Environmental Endowment’s new James River Water Quality Improvement Grant Program, the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Conservation Innovation Center recently developed a “Restoration Planner,” a web-based application to support planning and evaluation of restoration projects.

The Restoration Planner leverages the CIC’s high-resolution land cover and flow path data to identify and prioritize high-impact, cost-effective projects that maximize water quality benefits for the James River watershed.

“This tool provides VEE and its grant applicants with information about where conservation and restoration projects are likely to produce the greatest water quality benefits,” said Chesapeake Conservancy’s Senior Geospatial Analyst Emily Mills. “The Restoration Planner is a classic example of enabling what we call ‘precision conservation,’ which is bringing the right practices at the right scale to the right places and at the right time. Precision conservation means having a greater impact with investments of valuable resources–time and money.”

“Thanks to this tool from the Chesapeake Conservancy, VEE and our grantees can now quickly determine the potential environmental impact of a proposed project, ensuring that we are investing our efforts and private funds in the most effective way,” said VEE Executive Director Joseph H. Maroon. “The Conservancy’s tool was a key factor in VEE awarding over $4.5 million in grants last fall to six projects aimed at advancing conservation practices and improving water quality in the James River.”

The Restoration Planner provides a Google Maps-like interface where users can explore a wealth of data layers. They can zoom in to a specific restoration opportunity area (ROA) or parcel, and at the click of a button, they can access information about that project such as its potential for reducing runoff and erosion. Users can also sort and filter the ROAs and parcels by their criteria of interest within their specific geographies, helping to refine their search for high-quality projects in their communities.

This technologically advanced approach and resulting grant-funded projects complement Envision the James, an initiative Chesapeake Conservancy conducted along with partners such as the James River Association, which specifically identified public demand for water quality restoration and wildlife habitat conservation.

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