Using Conservation Easements as a Water Quality Protection Tool in the Goose Creek Watershed, Northern Virginia
The prioritization scheme is based on four metrics: runoff potential, buffer potential, forested streambank, and agricultural streambank. The top five highest ranking parcels of each metric were overlaid to produce a total of 14 priority parcels. Despite 43% of the land in this subwatershed already being under conservation easements, only six of the 14 priority parcels were already under easement.
My recommendations are to target priority parcels not yet under conservation easement to be placed under easement and to amend existing easements on priority parcels to strengthen riparian buffer requirements. I suggest first focusing restoration efforts on those “source” parcels identified as having the greatest potential to contribute sediment and fecal coliform bacteria to Goose Creek, then shifting to preserving those “sink” parcels which have the greatest potential to decrease levels of sediment and fecal coliform. I have thus developed a flexible framework for prioritizing a landscape with the goal of maximizing water quality and using conservation easements as the tool to accomplish this protection. This methodology can be used by organizations with limited resources to focus efforts most efficiently.
School Location:USA - North Carolina
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:conservation easement water quality gis riparian buffer
Date of Publication:04/24/2008