Using Net Wetland Loss, Current Wetland Condition, and Planned Future Watershed Condition for Wetland Conservation Prioritization, Tampa Bay Watershed, Florida

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The Tampa Bay Watershed is emblematic of moderately sized coastal watersheds in the US: one-third of the wetlands were lost between the 1950s and 2007; numerous wetland remain, though many have been impacted; most remaining wetlands are hydrologically connected to downgradient waters; there are future constraints to wetland conservation; and the spatial complexity of these factors make it difficult to coordinate watershed-scale wetland conservation planning. Therefore, the Tampa Bay Watershed can serve as a model system for studying coordinated watershed-scale wetland conservation planning. The development of a technical framework requires that spatially explicit information be obtained, analyzed, and organized so customizable queries can be run by stakeholder agencies. Our approach does so by using readily available data to create a geodatabase organized into a set of screening layers that can be intersected hierarchically to identify areas where wetland preservation and restoration might be best used to accomplish overarching goals. Our approach was developed in conjunction with stakeholder input and is currently being integrated into a coordinated watershed-scale wetland conservation effort.

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Presented at the Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting on May 19, 2014 in Portland, OR