Part 2 of the CT and PA Study
The growth model is intended to show where growth will probably occur over definite intervals of time. Results of the growth model will be used to identify at risk resources and will aid in the identification of conservation focal areas. The predicted patterns of land use and land cover will then be used in an analysis of their likely effects on the Highlands’ resources. Results of the build-out analysis will be used as inputs for the water resource analysis. Forests and other resources will be analyzed with relation to likely changes in land cover. Results of the growth model will be used to identify where resources are most at risk and will aid in the identification of conservation focal areas.
Impacts of Land Use Change on Water Resources
The forests, streams, lakes, wetlands, and underground aquifers of the Highlands are high-quality aquatic resources important to the citizens of the region and its nearby urban areas. A detailed analysis of existing ground-water and surface-water data will be used to develop a water budget for the Highlands region. The water budget is necessary to define the current availability of water in the region, to describe how the hydrology of the system functions, and to provide a baseline for comparing previous conditions and projected trends.
A precipitation-runoff model will simulate the effects of projected changes in land use and impervious cover on stream-flow characteristics.
Impacts of Land Use Change on other Highlands Resources
The predominant land cover of the Highlands is forest. Forest lands are important as sources of fiber, as ecosystems, as watershed protection, and as wildlife habitat. They provide a variety of recreational opportunities. Forests covering hills, ridges, steep slopes and headwaters areas are more than a green backdrop for rural and urban communities; they protect the soil from erosion and promote the infiltration of rainwater, thereby insuring the quality and availability of water to those who rely on wells and on surface water sources. Large, contiguous tracts of forest that are not fragmented by development are especially valuable as wildlife habitat and as recreational open space.
Farmland, the second major land cover in the Highlands region, is important as a resource because it produces agricultural and horticultural products necessary to life. As a land use, agriculture is the basis of a rural economy that sustains many Highlands communities. The Highlands’ agricultural landscape includes forests and wood-lots that supply vital resources of water, clean air, and open space.
The present state of the Highlands’ forest and agricultural resources will be used as a baseline to estimate the impacts of projected land use change on the resources and on the services they provide.
Schedule and Budget
Part 2 started in August 2006 and is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2008. The budget includes $949,905 in Federal funds plus $257,826 in matching funds, for a total of $1,207,731.