Surface water quantity and quality are of great concern. In the eastern U.S., water quality and quantity are measurably impacted by combined sewer overflow events, increasing impervious surface, and decreasing forest cover. Through EPAs ; and several States ; leadership, many regions have defined watershed management areas with goals of monitoring surface water flows and qualities within the ecosystem framework of watersheds. Political jurisdictions and property ownership rarely match the borders of ecological watersheds, but awareness of how local conditions affect the broader watershed can influence how jurisdictions and owners manage their lands.This study will build on an existing the forest inventory of the Raritan Basin (NJDEP 2012 Land Use/Land Cover) and investigate the existing protections (such as conservation easements, open space designations, etc.) that are in place. A geographic information system (GIS) database layer will be developed to show the areas, by parcel, that are protected as well as the level and type of protection and indicators of forest vulnerability. This will be accomplished by working with the local watershed associations, non-governmental organizations, and municipalities. Note that state and county open space is already mapped and identified by uses (e.g. conservation, recreation, etc.).It is imperative that we develop a better understanding of the importance of upland forest protection and the effectiveness of various protective measures, in order to strategically protect the remaining forest and maintain or improve water quality. This project will investigate areas with long standing forest protections and compare them to areas with minimal protections. Comparisons will include rates of forest loss and patterns of water quality measures over time.Recommendations for upland forest protection policies will be made to the above-mentioned watershed associations, municipalities, and state and county agencies.This work will clarify what level of risk upland forests are at within selected sub-watersheds of the Raritan Basin. In addition, effectiveness of some forest protections will be tested, in areas that have long-standing protection in place, by site visits that assess forest vulnerability through a number of factors. Finally, the role of municipalities in forest protection may be enhanced through demonstration of effectiveness of forest protection as potentially significant part of their water protection policies.
|Effective start/end date||7/4/16 → 6/30/19|