River Corridor Assessment for the North Atlantic Region Project Summary

An urgent need exists to uniformly assess river corridors, including floodplains, and to prioritize areas for protection across the North Atlantic landscape. These are daunting tasks since there are no well-defined methods to delineate and assess scores of diverse river corridors in this region.

The RiverSmart research group at UMass Amherst has made meaningful strides toward a uniform assessment of North Atlantic river corridors having assembled a task force of river specialists, analyzed ecologic and geomorphic threats, scrutinized the wide-ranging approaches to assess riparian habitats, and performed initial evaluations in diverse watersheds. In this project, we will build on this base.

During the first year, we will develop a multi-layered river corridor assessment method and conservation prioritization toolkit based on ecologic integrity, geomorphic processes, flood extents in a changing climate, and existing cultural resources. This method will be tested and reviewed by our task force first in characteristic watersheds—mountainous, coastal and low-relief.

In the second year, we will expand analysis to more river corridors across the North Atlantic region. We will quantitatively assess threats at regional and local scales and prioritize protection areas. The results will be disseminated by two reports, presentations to the NALCC, and collaboration with our 30-member task force, who can further disseminate and use our findings. Overall this project will lead to a comprehensive evaluation of river corridors and floodplains in the North Atlantic region that can be updated as improved climate predictions emerge and as land use in changes.