Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis,
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

crssa > projects > coastal > riparian zone

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  Assessment of Land Use Change and Riparian Zone Status in the Barnegat Bay and Little Egg Harbor Watershed:
1995-2002-2006
 
     
 

Investigators: Richard G. Lathrop1, Scott M. Haag2

1
Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis
2 Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences


School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA 08901


This project was funded by the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program.

 

 

The Barnegat Bay/Little Egg Harbor (BB/LEH) estuary is suffering from eutrophication issues due to nutrient loading, most importantly nitrogen, from both atmospheric as well as urban and agricultural land use in the watershed. As part of their ongoing monitoring efforts, the Rutgers University Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing & Spatial Analysis, with funding provided by the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program, undertook to map and assess recent land use change in the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor watershed.

 

 
OVERVIEW

The Barnegat Bay/Little Egg Harbor (BB/LEH) estuary is suffering from eutrophication issues due to nutrient loading, most importantly nitrogen, from both atmospheric as well as urban and agricultural land use in the watershed. As part of their ongoing monitoring efforts, the Rutgers University Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing & Spatial Analysis, with funding provided by the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program, undertook to map and assess recent land use change in the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor watershed. The updated mapping reveals that urban land use increased from approximately 25% in 1995 to approximately 30% of the BB/LEH watershed in 2006.  Including all altered land uses (i.e., agriculture and barren lands) puts the percentage of altered land in the BB-LEH watershed at over 33% in 2006. The BB/LEH estuary system is continuing to experience a significant conversion of forested and wetland habitats to urban land cover and thereby exacerbating nutrient loading to the BB-LEH estuary.

The riparian zone is defined as those areas that are adjacent or hydrologically connected to the surface water network (e.g., streams, rivers, lakes or reservoirs).  Riparian zones may constitute the immediate upland buffer to a stream as well as areas that may be more physically distant but are hydrologically connected through groundwater flow (e.g., hydric soils or wetlands that are in close proximity to a stream). Protected riparian buffer zones adjacent to water bodies and streams, where human development and agriculture is excluded or minimized is advocated as a “best management practice” to reduce the impact of human developed land uses on adjacent aquatic ecosystems and downstream water quality. As outlined in Action Item 6.1 of the Barnegat Bay Estuary Program Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (Barnegat Bay Estuary Program, 2000), “a re-examination of the current condition of riparian buffers and strategic measures to ensure their protection are vital to meeting the goals of water quality and habitat protection within the Barnegat Bay watershed.” The objective of this study was to address this action item.

This assessment shows that development of riparian buffer zones continues with a total 1,920 acres of riparian habitat converted to urban areas between 1995 and 2006.  The sub-basins draining to the northern portion of BB/LEH estuary (i.e., the Metedeconk, Beaver Dam, Kettle Creek and Silver Bay sub-basins) have riparian zones that are significantly compromised with > 20% riparian zones in altered land use. We have identified approximately 1,300 acres of barren land and 677 acres of agricultural land within the mapped riparian zones that could serve as potential targets for revegetation and restoration.  Over 600 acres or approximately one third of the area identified above as of potentially restorable land is located in the highest priority sub-basins that have the highest percentage of altered riparian zones.  Additional work as well as local partners are needed to translate the results of this assessment to refine and prioritize a site-level portfolio of possible restoration targets.


 



REPORT
Lathrop, Haag BB/LEH riparian '07 report PDF

Final Report: R. Lathrop, S. Haag, October 2007(approx 1.2 megabytes)

Note: this PDF document was revised 20080307 with a new figure inserted into the report, 'Figure 5. Barren and Agricultural land overlaid with Riparian Zones'



GIS DATA
Riparian zones in NJ coastal watersheds (download CRSSA data)

Riparian Zones in New Jersey Coastal Watersheds

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GIS users: the riparian zone data represents riparian zones in New Jersey coastal watersheds. The GIS data format is Arc/Info raster grid (map projection and datum: UTM, NAD83 datum, UTM zone 18)






What is a riparian zone?
The riparian zone is defined as those areas that are adjacent or hydrologically connected to the surface water network (e.g., streams, rivers, lakes or reservoirs).  Riparian zones may constitute the immediate upland buffer to a stream as well as areas that may be more physically distant but are hydrologically connected through groundwater flow (e.g., hydric soils or wetlands that are in close proximity to a stream).

















 
CONTACT

Rick Lathrop
Director, Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA)
lathrop@crssa.rutgers.edu


 
 

Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA)
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
14 College Farm Road, Cook Campus
New Brunswick, NJ USA 08901-8551
Tel: 732/932-1582
Fax: 732/932-2587
Web: crssa.rutgers.edu

 
  Web site composed by the Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA), Rutgers University, © 2007.