A Land Preservation Framework for the Cacapon Watershed of West Virginia

A Land Preservation Framework
for the Cacapon Watershed
of West Virginia
Michael P. Strager
Charles B. Yuill
Natural Resource Analysis Center
West Virginia University
Land preservation in WV
Land conservation groups
Issues or challenges
MCA and DSS framework
Application in the Cacapon watershed
Summary / Conclusions
Why land preservation?
Preserve existing land uses
Protect native plant species or wildlife habitat
Extend natural areas
Preserve historically significant land
Land conservation groups
West Virginia Land Trust
Mission to protect farms, forests, wildlands,
urban green spaces, and historically
significant lands
West Virginia Cave Conservancy
Cacapon and Lost Rivers Land Trust
Indian Creek Conservancy
Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle
WV Chapter of the Nature Conservancy
Issues faced by land trusts
• Limited budgets for
• Reliance on easement
• Fragmented protected
• Need for proactive planning
Spatial multi-criteria analysis (MCA) framework
• MCA: A decision making framework for
problems with multiple goals, objectives
and alternatives
• Spatial MCA: Alternatives vary with
Decision support system
• An interactive, computer-based system
designed to support a user or group of users
in achieving a higher effectiveness of decision
• Functions:
• explore solutions by building alternatives
• allow user interaction and input
• provide for flexible data and analysis capabilities
(Jankowski, 1995)
EX: Cacapon River Watershed
Cacapon Land Trust
• Actively involved in preserving land through
• Mission statement:
“… to assist landowners and their communities in
maintaining healthy rivers, protecting forests and
farms, and preserving rural heritage for the
enjoyment and well being of present and future
Decision making methodology
• Four objectives of Land Trust:
Water quality
Rural heritage
• Develop multiple criteria to meet each
Criteria for each objective
Water Quality
Forested riparian buffers
Large tracts of undeveloped land
Lands in proximity to protected areas
Grassy riparian buffers
Groundwater recharge areas
High quality floodplains, wetlands, and streams
Headwater streams
Farms within viewshed
Farms in floodplains
Farms with unique features
Economic sustainability
Farms threatened by development
Farms with sustainable ag practices
Contiguity with other farmlands
Farms, near a river
Farms that use BMP’s
Working family farms
Farms on prime soils
Rural Heritage
Natural streams, high quality water
Sustain timber lands
Scenic viewsheds and scenic corridors
Historic sites
Recreational land use
Valuable farm lands
Culturally-significant places
Scenic places
Encouraging stewardship by community
Wild lands
Rural lifestyles and traditions
Significant habitats and special natural areas
Large intact interior forest
Threat of forest conversion
Riparian forested areas
Forest biodiversity and condition
Adjacent/connected forested blocks
Single ownership (private) of forested land
Economic viability and sustainability of forests
Assign weights to criteria
Analytical hierarchy process (AHP):
• A pairwise comparison method
• A choice and relative weight for strength of
Weighting results
Integration of components
GIS data
Implementation strategies
• Adapting results to the real world - “Can’t buy
a pixel but you can buy a parcel”
• Additional issues and complexity in using
• Multifunctionality
• Limited budget
• Protection of contiguous areas
Decision support system
Assists the Land Trust in parcel identification
Explores the solutions under different weightings
Proactively target high priority lands
Evaluate “walk in” easements
Interactively include/weight new criteria
Current status
• Land Trust is actively using the GIS data,
ranking methodology and results in the
decision support system (DSS)
• Easement acquisition is now more proactive
• Evaluation of proposed easements is more
• “I use the DSS weekly, and at times daily, to build maps, target
landowners, identify high priority corridors connecting
conservation hubs to public lands, or to triage easement
donations with the high priority lands.” - Nancy Ailes, Director,
Cacapon Land Trust, April 23, 2004.
Summary / conclusions
The Multiple Criteria Analysis (MCA) framework
and Decision Support System (DSS) provides
a valuable land management tool
Ability to document decision making process
Bottom up approach involving local issues and
Cacapon Land Trust
Canaan Valley