Conservation Tracker: Connecting partners, restoration projects, and expertise

The Lower Susquehanna region of Pennsylvania is a “hotspot” for water quality issues. Over 40% of local streams are impaired by sediment and nutrient pollution from agricultural and stormwater runoff. Further, the area contributes Pennsylvania’s largest nutrient loads to the Chesapeake Bay. Under the leadership of Matt Royer, the Lower Susquehanna Initiative (LSI) was formed to increase community engagement and adoption of best management practices (BMPs) to improve water quality in a strategically targeted agriculturally impaired watershed.

Working in cooperation with the LSI partnership, Viable Industriesd and Chesapeake Commons developed the Conservation Project Tracker, an open-source web app built for connecting conservation partners, restoration projects, and expertise throughout the Lower Susquehanna region.Conservation Project Tracker enables organizations like Conewago Creek Initiative, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and Lancaster County Conservancy to crowdsource their data on voluntary conservation projects throughout the watershed. With centralized data from all partners, our app allows organizations to search, view, promote, and get involved with ongoing conservation projects in their area. Users can keyword search by projects and partners in need of expertise and capacity, allowing individuals to strategically get involved with buffer plantings or stream restorations.

For the first time small farmers participating in voluntary programs are sharing site specific information on practices implemented by conservation partners. While this list only consists of only a few landowners, we feel this app and future versions have the potential to increase the transparency and accountability surrounding the implementation of Ag BMPs. Our team looks forward to watching Conservation Project Tracker grow and serve as an efficient way to document restoration progress and help partners match need with capacity.

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