Integrating and Leveraging Monitoring Networks to Support the Assessment of Outcomes in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement

A STAC workshop was held in April 2016 to explore potential opportunities for integrating and leveraging existing monitoring networks to provide consistent data sources. For this workshop, participants focused on a single watershed (the Choptank River, MD) and a subset of 7 of the 31 Agreement outcomes (i.e., oysters, fish habitat, forage fish, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), water quality (both in the watershed and tidal waters), stream health, and toxic contaminants). This approach served as a case study to develop strategies that could be applied to other watersheds, and eventually scaled up to the entire Bay.

Overall, the report acknowledges that there is vast potential to expand networks by collaborating with a wide variety of monitoring efforts currently underway across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Further, the CBP should continue to address barriers to data integration to effectively monitor multiple Bay Agreement outcomes. Participants identified a set of 5 major recommendations for next steps, summarized broadly below:

1. Align objectives through a common vision. Prioritize the specific elements important for understanding restoration progress and effectively targeting limited monitoring and management resources.

2. Organize strategic consortia to pool and prioritize monitoring funding based on this common vision.

3. Synthesize and communicate monitoring results to diverse stakeholders to overcome communication gaps.

4. Use existing active monitoring efforts at the tributary and regional scale and support coordination, collaboration, and data sharing among partners. Notably, continue to foster the integration of citizen science and other nontraditional partner data collection activities.

5. CBP Workgroups should consider an extended planning horizon when dealing with network integration efforts, starting with meetings of small groups focusing on specific collaborations, then build towards a regional scale collaborative workshop.

The full report can be found on the STAC publications database.