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Better Targeting CBP Resources to Achieve Multiple Outcomes: Approach and Tools

The USGS has initiated an effort to take a more comprehensive approach for targeting resources, working with several partners including the USEPA (CBP office, Office of Research and Development, and Region 3) and the Chesapeake Conservancy. The objective is to develop a strategic, science-based approach to better target federal and state resources to the places, and towards the types of activities, that accelerate progress for multiple outcomes. The proposed approach is organized around several topics (figure 1), which include many outcomes in the Chesapeake Watershed Agreement: (1) accelerate water-quality improvements, (2) coordinate habitat restoration, (3) expand land-conservation efforts, and (4) increase benefits to people, with all considering climate resiliency.

Access the DRAFT tool hub here.

Improving CBP Monitoring Networks

An overview was provided to the Principal Staff Committee (PSC) at their March 2, 2021 meeting about the status of, and potential reductions to, the current Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) monitoring networks. The CBP monitoring programs presented included the nontidal nutrient and sediment network, tidal water-quality monitoring network, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), tidal benthic monitoring network, and Citizen Science monitoring. The reduction of stations and data in the CBP monitoring networks is mostly due to inflation in the cost of monitoring over the past 5 years, while funding for the networks has been held constant. The Scientific Technical Assessment and Reporting Team (STAR) listed the condition of the networks as “fair” during August 2020 SRS quarterly review to the Management Board. The PSC recognizes that monitoring is foundational to the CBP’s ability to assess progress toward its goals and outcomes and utilizing adaptive-management principles. In response to the status report, they requested information be provided on what is needed to improve the CBP monitoring networks, including: (1) an overview of current status and threats to the networks, and (2) what is needed to address the monitoring networks capacity shortfalls.

Strategic Science and Research Framework

The GITs, STAR and STAC have worked together to develop an approach that will identify, and help prioritize, both short- and longer-term science needs. The approach will result in a Strategic Science and Research Framework that will be an on-going, repeatable process that supports the SRS decision framework. The results will be used to help focus existing science resources, and leverage the research enterprise, to more effectively provide science to advance Chesapeake restoration and conservation efforts and decision making. All science needs are available on the CBP Science Needs Database.

Chesapeake Bay Dissolved Oxygen Profiling

Water quality impairment in the Chesapeake Bay, caused primarily by excessive long-term nutrient input from runoff and groundwater, is characterized by extreme seasonal hypoxia, particularly in the bottom layers of the deeper mainstem (although it is often present elsewhere). In addition to obvious negative impacts on ecosystems where it occurs, hypoxia represents the integrated effect of watershed-wide nutrient pollution, and monitoring the size and location of the hypoxic regions is important to assessing Chesapeake Bay health and restoration progress.

Chesapeake Bay Program direct water quality monitoring has been by necessity widely spaced in time and location, with monthly or bi-monthly single fixed stations separated by several kilometers. The need for continuous, real time, vertically sampled profiles of dissolved oxygen has been long recognized, and improvements in hypoxia modeling and sensor technology make it achievable. Recent results of Bever, et al. (2018) show that total Chesapeake Bay hypoxic volume can be estimated using a few analytically selected fixed continuous dissolved oxygen profiles.

The project is to pilot a cost effective, real-time dissolved oxygen vertical monitoring system for characterizing mainstem Chesapeake Bay hypoxia. The approach for this project is to use a lightweight, low-powered real-time inductive CTDO2 mooring with sensors at multiple vertical measurement levels. The reports provide details on the proposed tasks for this project and expected outcomes and deliverables.

Cross-Goal Team Mapping Project January 2017

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement recognizes that “to be successful in achieving its goals and outcomes, progress must be made in a strategic manner, focusing on efforts that will achieve the most cost-effective results.” It further acknowledges that using place-based approaches, where appropriate, will help produce recognizable benefits to local communities while contributing to larger ecosystem goals.

STAR, with the CBP GIS Team, is supporting a cross-outcome mapping effort for the Goal Implementation Teams (GITs) to more effectively collaborate on inter-related outcomes, This project is helping to identify places where the CBP can more strategically make progress toward inter-related outcomes.

Measure and Explain Water-Quality Changes

Midpoint Assessment Priority Work Plan: Measure and Explain Water Quality Changes

Lead: Scientific, Technical Analysis, and Report (STAR) Team

Full Title of Priority: Enhanced Analysis and Explanation of Water-Quality Data for the TMDL Mid-Point Assessment

The Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) will enhance the analysis and explanation of monitoring information as part of the Mid-Point Assessment for the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Sediment (Bay TMDL).

American Shad Indicator Action Team

The American Shad Indicator Action Team (ASIAT) was assembled in summer 2012 as a joint effort between the Scientific and Technical Analysis and Reporting (STAR) Team and the Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team (Fisheries GIT). ASIAT’s purpose was to determine how to most accurately track the recovery progress of American Shad in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The ASIAT met seven times from August 2012 through August 2013 to review and update the Chesapeake Bay Program’s American Shad Abundance Indicator . In that time, the team added two new data sets to the indicator and updated the abundance targets for all Virginia tributaries based on historic population data. The team also agreed to a new weighting scheme for individual tributaries to calculate the Baywide shad abundance index. ASIAT may reconvene in late 2014 or 2015 to consider adding additional data to the indicator. Until then, Chesapeake Bay Program staff are working with ASIAT members to keep the indicator web page updated with the most recent data.

Evolving the STAR Team to Meet the Watershed Agreement (2011)

The purpose of this report is to provide an implementation plan for Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) Scientific, Technical Assessment, and Reporting (STAR) team to expand its science capacity to better meet the needs of the Goal Implementation Teams (GITs). The plan provides a revised purpose and functions of STAR, based on an adaptive-management approach, and recommends actions for evolving the STAR to include a broader group of science providers and enhancing interaction with the GITs to address their science needs.

Toxic Contaminants Action Team

For many years, scientists and resource managers have recognized that exposure to toxiccontaminants can result in adverse effects on biological resources within the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. In 2010, the President’s Chesapeake Bay Executive Order (EO 13508) Strategy directed Federal agencies to prepare a report summarizing information on the extent and severity of occurrence of toxic contamination in the Bay and its watershed. In responce to the Executive Order the Toxic Contaminants Action Team was charged with the task of developing this report. Findings in this report will be used by the CBP partnership to consider whether to adopt new goals for reducing inputs of toxic contaminants entering the Bay. This report also identifies research and monitoring gaps that could be considered to improve the understanding of the extent and severity occurrence of toxic contaminants in the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.

Monitoring Re-Alignment Action Team Reports

In 2009 the CBP Management Board accepted the principal findings of a STAC review of Chesapeake Bay Program and charged the Monitoring Re-Alignment Action Team (MRAT) to developed a report to better align monitoring activities with the Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership priorities.