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Region 3: Online Data Platform for Submerged Aquatic Vegetation in the Chesapeake Bay

2020 Regional-State-Tribal Innovation Projects

Underwater grasses, or submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), are an essential but threatened living resource in many estuarine ecosystems. They provide food, habitat, and nursery grounds for fish and shellfish, and waterfowl depend on these areas for sustenance. To improve the management of this resource, the Chesapeake Bay Program, state partners Maryland and Virginia, and the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office are planning a new “Sentinel Site” program that will collect standardized data at long-term monitoring sites. The program will be part of a 3-tier system for SAV monitoring that will integrate three data sources: 1) aerial imagery augmented by satellite imagery; 2) ground surveys from the Chesapeake Bay SAV Watchers Program – a citizen science volunteer monitoring program; and 3) the new SAV Sentinel Site program.

This project will create an online website platform to coordinate efforts between Sentinel Site program participants, integrate information with the other two monitoring tiers, provide standardized protocols and training materials to monitoring groups, and allow access to data. Data from this platform will be used by state partners and EPA to assess restoration progress and support research on the impacts of water pollution and climate change on submerged aquatic vegetation.

Partners: Maryland Department of Natural Resources