Planting Forest Buffers

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Chesapeake Bay Program Indicator Framework
Reporting Level Indicators
Indicator and Data Survey

A.  Category/Name/Source/Contact

(1) Category of Indicator
___ Factors Impacting Bay and Watershed Health
 _x__ Restoration and Protection Efforts
 __ Watershed Health
 ___ Bay Health
(2) Name of Indicator: Riparian Forest Buffers Planted

(3) Description of Dataset used to calculate percent of goal achieved: 

 Data collected for tracking
 Linear ft, miles, and acres of forest buffers were measured directly.

(4) Source(s) of Data:

 Bay State partners: Maryland Dept of Forestry, Pennsylvania DEP, Virginia Dept of Forestry and DCR.

(5) Custodian of Source Data (and Indicator, if different): Maryland Dept of Forestry, Pennsylvania DEP, Virginia Dept of Forestry and DCR.

(6) CBPO Contact: Judy Okay

B.  Communication Questions

(complete either part 1, 2, or 3)
1.  Restoration and Protection Efforts indicators only
(7a) How much has been completed since 1985 (or baseline year)?  6858.3 miles between 1996 and 2009.  How much has been completed since 2000?  6433.7 miles between 2000 and 2009

(8a) How much was done last year?  Between September 2008 and August 2009, 721.7 miles of riparian forest buffers have been reported as restored in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The states of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia have reported 9.2, 652.8, and 59.7 miles respectively.  These numbers reflect a slight increase in forest buffer restoration from 2007 -08.  Pennsylvania had an increase in implementation, Maryland and Virginia had a slight reduction in implementation.  We exceeded the estimated 2009 level of implementation, but will still fall short of achieving the 2010, 10,000 mile goal.  Reasons for the continuing slow progress can be attributed to:
• The delayed action in approval of the new Farm Bill.
• There is still a shortage of technical assistants and this will continue to be an issue due to the State government lay off ( MD and VA)of agency personnel to make up budget shortfalls.
• Uninformed/resistant landowners

All of these issues have been the focus of efforts to improve forest buffer implementation.  
• Partnerships with state Natural Resource Conservation Service, state forestry agencies, and non- profit organizations were rejuvenated through formation of a Bay-Wide CREP Group. 
• Growing Native a seed collection program has provided seed for state forestry nurseries in an effort to increase stock availability.
• A quarterly buffer newsletter has been developed and distributed throughout the Bay watershed.  This newsletter highlights new tools, implementation progress, benefits and services of forest buffers.
• New Geo-spatial tools will be available in the 2010 calendar year for the assessment of forest buffer cover of streams an shorelines on a local level within the Bay watershed.
(9a) What is the current status in relation to a goal?  68.6% of the 10,000 mile goal has been achieved.
68.6 % of the 2003 expanded goal of 10,000 miles restored by 2010 has been achieved, but the annual accomplishments need to increase to 3141.7 miles annually for the next year to meet expectations.
The introduction of programmatic changes to the current Federal Farm Bill, and extra funds being concentrated in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by this bill should increase the ability to fund more riparian restoration.  Maryland Division of Forestry has requested Farm Services Administration restructure incentives to reward landowners for increasing buffer widths from 50 - 100 feet.  Do these facts assure more riparian forest buffer implementation?  They should, but only time will tell.  As we look toward to 2010 it is with optimism that riparian forest buffers implementation will continue until 70% of the streams and shorelines of the Chesapeake Bay are reforested and protected.
 (10a) What does this indicator tell us? We are making progress but slowly.  According to scientific research riparian forest buffers are the most efficient filters for nutrients and other pollutants carried by storm water runoff.  The ultimate goal is water quality improvements in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed because of the increase in riparian forest buffer miles.
(11a) Why is it important to report this information?  Reporting of this information creates awareness that efforts are being made to improve the health of the Bay.  It also imparts information related to the importance of riparian forest buffers for healthy Bay watersheds.
(12a) What detail and/or diagnostic indicators are related to this reporting level indicator? George Mason University conducted a study in 2004 showing the net change in riparian forest buffers for select areas in Prince Georges County, Maryland, Dauphin County, PA, and Spotsylvania, Henrico and James City Counties in Virginia.  Between 1994 and 2002, the extent of forest buffers in the sample areas declined 2.7% due mostly to urban development. 

2.  Bay Health or Watershed Health indicators only
(7b) What is the long-term trend?  (since start of data collection) 
(8b) What is the short-term trend? (3 to 5 year trend). 
(9b) What is the current status in relation to a goal?
 10b) What is the key story told by this indicator?  (11b) Why is it important to report this information? (12b) What detail and/or diagnostic indicators are related to this reporting level indicator?
3.  Factors Impacting Bay and Watershed Health indicators only
(7c) What is the long-term trend?  (since start of data collection)  An increase in forest buffers throughout the watershed. 
(8c) What is the short-term trend? (3 to 5 year trend)  It has been more difficult to continue needed progress.
(9c) What is the current status? We are behind the original 2010 goal.
(10c) What is the key story told by this indicator? There is interest in getting more forest buffers on the ground, people seem to know they are important.
(11c) Why is it important to report this information? The improvement of Bay health, also to encourage more work in the implementation of forest buffers.
(12c) What detail and/or diagnostic indicators are related to this reporting level indicator?

C.  Temporal Considerations

(13) Data Collection Date(s): 1996-2009

(14) Planned Update Frequency (e.g. - annual, bi-annual): Annual
 (a) Source Data: Given by Cooperating Bay states and Federal partners.
 (b) Indicator: Riparian Forest Buffers

(15) For annual reporting, month spatial data is available for reporting: January annually

D.  Spatial Considerations

(16) Type of Geography of Source Data (point, line polygon, other): Point

(17) Acceptable Level of Spatial Aggregation (e.g. - county, state, major basin, tributary basin, HUC): Any Bay tributary basin (e.g., Potomac/Susquehanna)

(18) Are there geographic areas with missing data?  Yes or No? If so, where?  No.
(19) The spatial extent of this indicator best described as:
(a) Chesapeake Bay (estuary)
(b) Chesapeake Bay (watershed)
 (c) Other (please describe): ________________________ 

Please submit any appropriate examples of how this information has been mapped or otherwise portrayed geographically in the past: A map showing geographic location is under development.

(20) Can appropriate diagnostic indicators be represented geographically? Yes.
The GMU study can provide a GIS shapefile illustrating loss of forest buffer for sampled areas in Frederick County, MD, Lancaster County, PA, and Prince William County, VA. 

E.  Data Analysis and Interpretation

(Please provide appropriate references and location of documentation if hard to find.)
(21) Is the conceptual model used to transform these measurements into an indicator widely accepted as a scientifically sound representation of the phenomenon it indicates?  Yes.

(22) What is the process by which the raw data is summarized for development and presentation of the indicator?   The data are summarized in a spreadsheet by geographic location with related extent of project sites. It is also mapped in GIS format.
(23) Are any tools required to generate the indicator data (e.g. - Interpolator, watershed model)?  Yes, GIS software.

(24) Are the computations widely accepted as a scientifically sound? Yes.

(25) Have appropriate statistical methods been used to generalize or portray data beyond the time or spatial locations where measurements were made (e.g., statistical survey inference, no generalization is possible)? Not applicable.

(26) Are there established reference points, thresholds or ranges of values for this indicator that unambiguously reflect the desired state of the environment? (health/stressors only).  N/a

F.  Data Quality

(Please provide appropriate references and location of documentation if hard to find.)
(27) Were the data collected according to an EPA-approved Quality Assurance Plan?  
If no, complete questions 28a – 28d:

(28a) Are the sampling design, monitoring plan and/or tracking system used to collect the data over time and space based on sound scientific principles? 
Sampling design is formulated by the USDA for tracking projects and funds.  The data is input by field personnel and submitted to State Departments of Forestry for QA/QC checks.

(28b) What documentation clearly and completely describes the underlying sampling and analytical procedures used?  
The data and metadata are sent to the Forestry Work Group by the participating State  Coordinators.  The data is documented and saved electronically.
(28c) Are the sampling and analytical procedures widely accepted as scientifically and technically valid?  Yes.

(28d) To what extent are the procedures for quality assurance and quality control of the data documented and accessible?
State records and Forestry Work Group records are kept and GIS maps are produced by the UMD Center for Environmental Science.

(29) Are the descriptions of the study or survey design clear, complete and sufficient to enable the study or survey to be reproduced?  Verified data can be used to determine miles of riparian forest buffers.

(30) Were the sampling and analysis methods performed consistently throughout the data record? N/A.

(31) If datasets from two or more agencies are merged, are their sampling designs and methods comparable?  Yes (States data are merged to get cumulative miles).  Submission criteria have been set and agreed to by State agencies.

(32) Are uncertainty measurements or estimates available for the indicator and/or the underlying data set? No

(33) (Do the uncertainty and variability impact the conclusions that can be inferred from the data and the utility of the indicator? N/A

(34) Are there noteworthy limitations or gaps in the data record?  Please explain. The data is only as good as the data originally submitted by the States.

G.  Additional Information


(35) Please provide any other information about this indicator you believe is necessary to aid communication and prevent any potential miss-representation.

This information passes through many hands before being merged into the annual cumulative miles.  Human error enters into this type of record.  The data is compiled and released with utmost attention to accuracy and validation of locations and extents of riparian forest buffers.This page has no content. Enrich by contributing.

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