River corridor planning helps remediate river instability that is largely responsible for erosion problems, increased sediment and nutrient loading. Community involvement is essential, and the Lamoille County Planning Commission (LCPC) has developed an interactive web map to de-mystify river corridor planning language and highlight river corridor planning and restoration projects being accomplished by many organizations and partnerships throughout the Lamoille watershed.
The specific type of web map utilized is called a “Story Map,” available on the ArcGIS Online (https://www.arcgis.com/home) platform by Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI). Story maps tell the story of a place, event, issue, trend, or pattern in a geographic context. They combine interactive maps with other content like text, photos, video, and audio that facilitate and emphasize the message being conveyed; the map and visual elements present information with the goal of educating and involving the audience.
LCPC’s objective was to increase community awareness and interest in restoring and protecting the watershed through the promotion and distribution of this Story Map. The project was funded through a Watershed Grant provided by the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. Funds for the Watershed Grant Program arise from sales of the Vermont Conservation License Plate (http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/get_involved/donate/conservation_license_plate).
The development of this interactive map was a multi-step process that involved extensive research, outreach and coordination with partners in the watershed. Sources of information include LCPC’s river corridor planning database, Local Hazard Mitigation Plans, DEC River Management Section publications, Lamoille County Conservation District website and publications, and Vermont River Conservancy website. Additionally, partners in the Lamoille watershed contributed project success stories – reports, presentations and photos – and other useful information.
The first three sections of the map outline basic concepts like defining a watershed and discussing the process of river corridor planning. As the viewer reads through the text of the Story Map, certain concept words or phrases are highlighted. When the viewer clicks on the text, the map zooms to a certain location or is replaced temporarily by an image illustrating the concept. For example, as the viewer clicks on the various tributary stream names the streams are highlighted one at a time in the map, illustrating the concept of a watershed as a geographic drainage area, where headwater streams flow downhill toward progressively larger streams or waterbodies.
The Lamoille River Watershed Story Map can be viewed at this internet location: http://arcg.is/1zjw45G.
Overall, this was a successful project. The story of watershed planning and restoration reached a broad audience, resulting in a more informed and engaged public. The medium of the Story Map has great potential to inform and engage people and LCPC anticipates using it to highlight other planning efforts in the Lamoille County region.