Lake Erie Buffer Program GIS Development Project
Northwest Ohio, OH

Grantee: Erie Basin Resource Conservation and Development
Basin Program Funds: $12,080
Non-federal Funds: $12,500
Project Duration: 07/2002 - 07/2003
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Agriculture is the dominant land use within the Western Ohio Lake Erie Watershed (Lorain County and west). Consequently, sediment is largely responsible for degradation of Lake Erie. The Maumee River Basin has specifically been identified as the Lake Erieís greatest source of sediment loading, and consequently is an Area of Concern within the Great Lakes Basin. Specifically, goal setting, targeting, tracking and evaluation of buffer practices could be dramatically improved with effective use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Buffer practices such as filter strips, wetland restoration, wildlife habitat, windbreaks, and others have been identified as effective Best Management Practices (BMPs) to alleviate these impacts. The Lake Erie Buffer Team, an interagency work group, has been instrumental in initiating, promoting, and implementing several education/outreach and voluntary/incentive based implementation programs to encourage landowners and farm operators to adopt these BMPs.

As a result, state and federal incentive programs, particularly Conservation Reserve (CRP) and Conservation Reserve Enhancement programs (CREP) as well as Clean Water Act Section 319 projects in individual watersheds have been highly successful. Through 1997 to June 2001, 28,036 acres of buffers have been installed.

The goal of this project was to enhance buffer practice delivery programs by providing SWCDs technical support in the development and use GIS with the following objectives:

  1. Develop uniform standards and protocols for creation of buffer layers for SWCD GIS systems throughout the Lake Erie CREP Area.
  2. Increase general level of familiarity and expertise with GIS software and capabilities among SWCD staff within the Ohio Lake Erie CREP Area.
  3. Increase use of GIS within the Lake Erie CREP Area to improve goal setting, targeting, tracking, and evaluation of buffer practice delivery programs.

Four summer GIS interns were interviewed and hired. Three of the 4 were college graduates, and one had a masterís degree. They were trained by NRCS and University of Toledo GIS and remote sensing specialists. The interns were also provided training on how to use GPS plugger instruments to field collect and attribute conservation practice locations. A state of the art GPS collector was provided to each of four pilot counties. The interns implemented a program in each of their 4 respective counties to pilot the use of GIS systems to collect, store, and use GIS spatial data in the conservation planning and application processes.

In consultation with district conservationists, a common data layer structure to be used to collect and store conservation buffer practices spatial data was developed. The interns organized a step-by-step procedure on how to collect and store the data for each of the 4 pilot counties. In addition, they have helped to provide field training to the field office for SWCD/NRCS staff in the procedures of setting up, collecting and constructing the GIS data layers. Procedures to merge data layers across county boundaries was addressed in the final report.

Contact: Mr. Ed McConoughey, 419-668-4113


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner