Virginia and Maryland, USA

Virginia and Maryland, USA

Marcia Berman (College of William and Mary, USA) and Catherine McCall (Maryland Chesapeake and Coastal Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, USA)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-815-9.ch008


The Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the largest estuary in the United States, spans 62,000 square miles and includes six states and the District of Columbia. A stewardship agreement exists among the three primary states; Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania that calls for a commitment to implement regulation and uphold practices that maintain or improve the Bay’s ecosystem as a whole. To meet these and other coastal challenges Virginia and Maryland have independently developed Internet based products through which data, maps, and information are served. This chapter will summarize some of the highlights of each state’s coastal web atlas. The type and format of resources available through each site will be reviewed. The user community will be defined. And a brief description of the site management structure will be presented. Both efforts have been spear- headed and supported by the states’ Coastal Zone Management Program, a program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
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A digital coastal atlas is a product where data are displayed, analyzed and/or distributed. A cursory review of selected sites across the country reveals dramatic differences in objectives and capabilities, despite some common themes. This chapter will describe products coming out of the Chesapeake Bay region, and focus specifically on the states of Virginia and Maryland. The following discussion highlights the history, goals and attributes of the Maryland and Virginia products and how they seek to resolve management challenges within the region.

Overview of Chesapeake Bay Regional Needs

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States with more than 62,000 square miles of surface area. The watershed includes six states: Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia. There are more than 100,000 streams in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 2003) and the population of 16.6 million, reported in 2005, all lives within minutes of one of them.

Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania share the majority of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The governors of these three states have entered into multiple stewardship agreements that explicitly call for the adoption of policies and regulations necessary to meet standards for improvement in water quality and ecosystem health. While many of these policies have been in place for several years, goals have not been met and the governing bodies have been criticized for the short falls. Most recently the designation of the Chesapeake Bay as a “national treasure” by current president Barack Obama redirects attention to the persisting issues of water quality and bay restoration.

The urgency to prepare for and manage for climate change has also been raised in the region. The low-lying coastal landscape enhances the potential for land loss and increased inundation associated with storms and sea level rise. Model simulation using actual storm events compare well with measured observations and indicate that inundation of the Bay shoreline is influenced by sea level rise (Shen et al., 2005). This presents obstacles and challenges for sustaining economic growth, public and private land holdings, cultural and natural heritage resources, and essential ecosystem habitat.

Solutions to the challenges faced within the Chesapeake Bay region begin with education, research, and tools. Whether you are a coastal manager trying to identify hot spots for non-point source pollution, an outreach coordinator developing a workshop on hurricane impacts, or a citizen deciding how to best manage shoreline erosion on his property, the ability to reach your desired outcome is driven by how much you know about the issues, the ease with which you can access current information and the availability of resources that support your objectives.

In a proactive move, the Coastal Zone Management Programs within Virginia and Maryland have independently directed funds toward the development of digital atlas products that offer a venue within which data are presented, information is disseminated, and tools are developed that encourage spatial planning within the coastal zone. These programs, funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, work within their designated states to develop partnerships with state agencies, municipalities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Both the Virginia and the Maryland programs have a long history of collaborating with regional groups to develop strategies for enhanced coastal zone management.

In the sections below, the Virginia and Maryland coastal web atlas products will be described separately. A summary will attempt to bring the information together to reflect on common problems, positive aspects, and finding as they may pertain to the objectives of the International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN).

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