Data-Driven Conservation and Restoration Support for the Chesapeake Bay Program

In 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a comprehensive plan to restore clean waters to the Chesapeake Bay and the streams, rivers, and creeks that are within its watershed. This plan is the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), often referred to as a pollution diet for the region.  The TMDL institutes a list of measures that need to be taken in order to restore healthy water systems for the entire watershed by 2025. EPA works in conjunction with the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) to plan and execute work within each of the Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions to accomplish these goals, outlined by each jurisdiction in their Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs). The WIPs are part of an accountability framework, detailing actions that will be taken in order to meet the anticipated milestones leading up to the 2025 deadline.

In 2018, Chesapeake Conservancy’s Conservation Innovation Center (CIC) entered into a 6-year cooperative agreement with EPA to provide geospatial support to CBP that will inform the management of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.  The agreement outlines four objectives that highlight focal areas for building capacity throughout the region, which CIC along with our partners are uniquely suited to fulfill. These objectives, while inherently distinct, work in consonance to enhance precision conservation and restoration efforts throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. During the six-year period, CIC and our partners will produce datasets and frameworks that will be made widely and freely available for all CBP partners and practitioners throughout the watershed to utilize for restoration and conservation planning and implementation.

Objective Overviews

Developing 1-meter Land Cover & Land Use Datasets

The CIC, in partnership with the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab (UVM SAL) and CBP, is creating high-resolution land cover and land use maps for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These data will be used to describe land use and land cover change and inform best management practices to work towards the 2025 Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) goals. These products are 1-meter resolution, providing much more detail and information about the landscape than the conventional 30-meter resolution land cover data.  These data exist for 2013/2014 based on NAIP imagery and will be produced for 2017/2018 and 2021/2022 as the data becomes available.

Additional resources:

2013/2014 Land Cover Data

2013/2014 Land Use Data

Project Contact: Katie Walker, Geospatial Project Manager | [email protected] | 443-345-5985 

Delineating Stream Channels & Ditches

The CIC, in collaboration with Dr. Matthew Baker at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), is redefining the way stream channels and other hydrologic features are mapped. Leveraging recent advances in geomorphology and computer vision, high-resolution LiDAR terrain data will be used to extract detailed and accurate networks of stream channels, roadside and agricultural ditches, and estimates of channel characteristics. These data will inform partners about how water moves throughout the landscape and where best management practices could be located to reduce nutrient and sediment loads entering the Bay’s tributaries.

Project Contact: David Saavedra, Geospatial Technical Lead | [email protected]  | (443) 345 – 5976

Mapping & Tracking Best Management Practices

The CIC, with Drexel’s Academy of Natural Sciences and Chesapeake Commons, is utilizing high-resolution datasets and modeling to develop a data-driven, dynamic blueprint for conservation strategies in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This information will help local governments and practitioners understand restoration opportunities that exist in their geographies, identify the suite of practices that will help move them toward their Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) goals, and track implementation of these practices to streamline the reporting process. Ultimately, this spatial tracking system will deliver tools to help bay jurisdictions develop and track restoration milestone plans, account for all BMP activities in their geographies, and identify project opportunities within priority watersheds.


Additional resources:


CAST Phase 6 Model

Chesapeake Bay BMP guide

Project Contact: Louis Keddell, Geospatial Project Manager | [email protected] | (443) 482 – 9016

Synthesizing Geospatial Data & Partnerships

The CIC will provide geospatial planning and support to Chesapeake Bay Program to create a comprehensive plan and structure that allows CBP partners to integrate geospatial data into management efforts during the six-year cooperative agreement. CIC staff will work closely with CBP to strategize, plan, implement, and deliver world-class geospatial information designed to help CBP’s modeling, web mapping, and data visualization efforts. The data and analysis will be hosted by CBP for use by partners and practitioners throughout the watershed. The structure of the geospatial data will be influenced by existing Bay-wide GIS efforts, such as the Chesapeake Conservation Atlas from the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership (CCP) and CBP’s Cross-Goal Implementation Team (GIT) Mapping Group. State, county, local municipalities and other partners can use the data to inform planning and policy and to identify actionable restoration and conservation practices throughout the watershed. 


Additional Resources:

How CBP works

Project Contact: Jake Leizear, Senior Geospatial Analyst | [email protected]  | (443) 261 – 2372



Click on the YouTube video below to view a recording of the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Chesapeake Bay Program webinar, hosted on August 31, 2021. The webinar provides an overview of all four objectives under the six-year cooperative agreement with the Chesapeake Bay Program, with progress and updates through Year 3.

Previous webinars: Year 1,   Year 2



Chesapeake Bay Program Status and Review Applications


Land Cover Production Schedule and Hydrography Status

Web viewer of draft land cover (2017/2018) production schedule and hydrography status. Subject to change.

Planimetric Vintages

Thematic map of planimetric vintages collected from municipalities in the bay watershed, to aid in creation of the Land Cover and Land Use data. 

Land Cover Data Review

Web application for reviewing the 2017/2018 draft land cover products. Password Protected.