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Mapping Water Resource Landscapes in the Delaware River Basin

Accurate land cover maps are essential for use in watershed planning initiatives and in overall water resource management. The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) utilized a grant from the William Penn Foundation to contract the development of mapping of landscape elements important for water resources.

  1. Land Cover: DRBC contracted with the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab to map high resolution land cover in the upper Delaware River Basin. The landcover dataset incorporated the National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP) with state acquired Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) remote sensing datasets to create 1 meter landcover GIS data layers. Two other forest datasets were also created from the LiDAR dataset. The first is forest patch size which divides the tree canopy into three patch sizes, small, medium, and large. These classifications are based on a combination of size, edge to perimeter ratio, length, and width. The second is forest species type which incorporates the tree canopy with the USDA Forest Service’s National Forest Type Dataset.

  2. Headwaters Watersheds: DRBC contracted with the US Geological Survey (USGS) to map first order stream catchments based on National Hydrographic Dataset (NHD) streams. The USGS used a semi-automated GIS method to create stream catchment polygons using NHD flow lines and a hydrologically corrected Digital Elevation Model (DEM).

All the GIS data are hosted on the Pennsylvania GIS Data Clearinghouse PASDA web site, and are linked below:

technical poster describing the mapping work was presented at the Delaware Estuary Science Summit in January 2017 (pdf 3.4 MB).

The above work was funded by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.