The Division of Coastal Management began using geographic information systems (GIS) in 1992 to compile information about wetlands for the Wetlands Conservation Plan. GIS is a computer hardware and software system used to analyze, sort, compare and compile large amounts of data. The Division of Coastal Management uses GIS to develop detailed wetland information for resource planning. Three main sources of information are used to develop the DCM wetland GIS data:
Using this information and other GIS data, we have mapped wetland locations and types. These maps can be used for planning purposes and as a tool for making wetland management, protection and development decisions. DCM has also developed a GIS wetland functional assessment called NC-CREWS or the North Carolina Coastal Region Evaluation of Wetland Significance. This GIS model provides an assessment of the ecological functions each wetland site on our maps is providing within a watershed (14 digit hydrologic unit). The results of these GIS applications are promising:
DCM's maps for the coastal area form the cornerstone of our Wetlands Conservation Plan.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation is beginning to use DCM's wetland maps in highway planning to avoid and minimize wetland impacts.
Local governments are beginning to incorporate the wetland map information into their local land-use plans to better direct development in their communities.
Preliminary reports on wetland mapping and functional assessment methods have been presented at regional and national meetings and distributed to other states.
Other state and federal agencies have been involved throughout development of DCM's wetland mapping and assessment projects: The N.C. Division of Water Quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service helped develop, review and field test the procedures.
Currently, DCM has mapped wetlands and completed the NC-CREWS GIS functional assessment in 37 coastal plain counties. DCM has also conducted a comprehensive Accuracy Assessment to determine the accuracy of the wetland type data.
For more technical information on these mapping projects, please visit our wetland document download page.