The WCC was developed as a national standard using environmental indicators to assess and classify watersheds. Once developed, this assessment was performed for all watersheds across the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land. This assessment of watershed conditions identified performance measures for restoration activities. It used outcomes as performance measures for restoration activities. The WCC system model relies on 12 aquatic and terrestrial biophysical indicators. Assessing and collecting this information often requires field assessments. It also requires expert knowledge when existing spatial data and information are insufficient, incomplete, or nonexistent. The level of effort involved in conducting and implementing the WCC has been a challenge to complete for all Forest Service lands.
Problem and Solution
The goal of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was to restore watershed and forest health. This involved focusing strategic investments in watershed improvement and conservation practices. To do so, USDA utilized the Watershed Condition Classification (WCC) system and Watershed Condition Framework (WCF). The WCF is a tool used to manage and identify watersheds for restoration opportunities. This tool is reliant on WCF information as part of a uniform multi-step process to identify, guide, and track outcomes of watershed restoration activities and efforts. Due to the performance and outcome based evaluation of restoration efforts the WCF has been a solution for nearly ten years.
The 2018 Farm Bill authorized the use of the WCF for watersheds and as part of this bill a review of the subsequent WCC was performed in 2019. This review identified gaps in data and an absence of GIS support that undercut the WCC functioning as a consistent tool for use in identifying restoration opportunities and investments at the watershed level. The need was identified from the assessment for the creation of a platform suited to WCC using geospatial data for use by the field to perform portions of their spatial analysis.
First, the solution needed to be reached using Esri’s ArcGIS Pro Desktop application as the platform for this project. Xentity began by providing data discovery and preparation. This took the form of an assessment of required geospatial data needed to model each of the 12 watershed indicator Condition Rating Rule Sets identified in the Watershed Condition Classification Technical Guide. Also, Xentity developed indicator workflow models. Each model represented the aforementioned 12 watershed condition indicators. Furthermore, Xentity developed a logical data storage structure. This was used for working with data locally in order to work with ESRI ArcGIS Pro.
Outcome and Benefit
Through Xentity’s efforts, the solution allowed for both interactive and user-friendly data management and analysis. The aforementioned 12 models were properly assessed. Also, through use of ArcGIS, a platform suited to WCC was created, fulfilling the absent GIS support and the data gaps. Consequently, the WCC can continue to be conducted and implemented to further assess and classify watersheds.