The Southeast Watershed Forum and The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga are launching a new and valuable resource for land and water protection. The Community Resource Mapper provides a free, user-friendly, online mapping service that will help communities integrate natural resource protection into land-use planning efforts.
Visitors to the site can create maps at a county, watershed or state level, that compare impaired streams, impervious surface, protected lands, wetlands, State Wildlife Action Plans and much more. The Mapper is unique in that it blends private data with a variety of public data sources and allows the integration of multiple resource layers, creating a custom view of a community. Much of this resource data is overlooked in the local comprehensive planning process, according to Christine Olsenius, Executive Director of the Southeast Watershed Forum.
“Now communities have a tool to identify their important natural resources and ‘green infrastructure’ before growth and development impact land critical to protecting water supplies, water quality and prime habitat,” Olsenius said. “The Mapper is a planning tool for visualizing the location of resources. These resources are critical to reducing the cost of community services and maintaining local quality of life.”
The Community Resource Mapper will help in targeting land conservation efforts, identifying riparian buffers, wetlands and stormwater management areas, and can help shape growth and development patterns. It can showcase areas where growth and development should be directed and identify partners to help conserve key resource areas.
The Mapper is a cooperative project of the Southeast Watershed Forum, NBII SAIN, the Land Trust Alliance, the Southeast Aquatic Resource Partnership, and The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga departments of Academic and Research Computing Services (ARCS) and Biological & Environmental Sciences. The Land Trust Alliance helped in securing protected lands data and the Aquatic Resources Partnership helped in securing early data for State Wildlife Action Plans. The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII – part of USGS) has been critical to launching the online mapping service.
Staff at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga provided assistance in the development of geodatabases and online programming, making the mapper easily accessible. Financial support has also been received from Merck Family Fund, TVA, the World Wildlife Fund and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
For more information about how to use the Community Resource Mapper, please visit www.watershed-assistance.net/mapper.