Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Geography and Planning

Committee Chairperson

Joy Fritschle, Ph.D

Committee Member

Megan Heckert, Ph.D

Committee Member

Joan Welch, Ph.D

Abstract

Wetlands provide innumerous functions and values that are beneficial to both the natural environment and economic systems. Historically these habitats have suffered significant losses and it is crucial to preserve existing wetlands and plan for future restoration opportunities. This research examines six sub-watersheds within the Brandywine Creek watershed within Chester County, Pennsylvania to determine where potential wetland mitigation opportunities occur. Using a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis, three wetland characteristics including watercourse locations, existing National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) wetlands, and hydric soils were mapped throughout each of the watersheds. Areas of agricultural easements and steep slopes were used to exclude areas from the study. Based on the occurrence of these characteristics, eight sites were selected for ground-truthing investigations. To support findings from these processes, a review of aerial imagery was performed to understand how the site and surrounding landscape have changed over time. Of the eight selected sites, two were deemed suitable for immediate potential wetland mitigation opportunities, four were determined to have the potential for wetland mitigation pending further analysis, and two were determined to be unsuitable for wetland mitigation. The lack of access to private property, presence of agricultural activities, and availability of GIS data provided limitations for a complete and thorough study. This research shows that GIS analysis could be a useful tool in determining where potential wetland mitigation opportunities lie and can serve to benefit future wetland mitigation planning activities, regulating agencies, conservation organizations, as well as the natural and human environments.

COinS