GIS Prioritization of Little River Riparian Corridor in Montgomery County, NC
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State parks, land trusts, and other conservation entities have very similar missions, to protect and conserve land. However, determining which land to conserve can vary within the mission of each organization. Habitat prioritization has become a common method to support conservation decisions; however, it often lacks consistency and accountability. In this project I worked with the LandTrust for Central North Carolina (LTCNC) integrating geographic information system (GIS) software with Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (MAUT) analysis to create a quantitative, and more accountable, prioritization method of the riparian corridor located along Little River in Montgomery County, NC. The prioritization goal was riparian corridor conservation in terms of the following objectives: nutrient retention, significant natural area protection, and ease of funding. Each objective was measured using GIS-created attributes. Nutrient retention was assessed in terms of effective imperviousness, effective buffer, and bank control. Significant natural area protection was assessed in terms of the presence of the NC Natural Heritage Program’s Significant Natural Heritage Areas (SNHA) and biodiversity as indexed by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Gap Analysis Program (GAP). Ease of funding was assessed in terms of acreage and adjacency to protected property. Utility and weighting scores were calculated for each of these attributes and aggregated to create an overall prioritization value. The top five prioritization value parcels had little effective imperviousness, high biodiversity, and large parcel size for ease of funding. Overall, this prioritization methodology creates a useful method based on LTCNC’s objectives and preferences for conservation. This prioritization plan has the potential to be replicated with other riparian corridor sites, providing additional consistency to LTCNC’s conservation decisions and adding accountability to conservation as a whole.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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