Chatham University

Graduate Research

 

A Land Conservation Model for Peters Creek Watershed Utilizing Greenprint Techniques to Preserve the High Quality Unique Natural Infrastructure (HQUNI) of Peters Creek Watershed

Author: Michael James Kotyk
Date: August 2008
Institution: Master of Landscape Architecture, Chatham University
Advisors: Lisa A. Kunst Vavro, RLA, ASLA, Roy Kraynyk and Tim Schumann
Program Director: Lisa A. Kunst Vavro, RLA, ASLA


Abstract
This project consists of developing a Land Conservation Model for the Peters Creek Watershed in Allegheny and Washington County’s, Pennsylvania. The client, the Peters Creek Watershed Association (PCWA), seeks to preserve lands within the watershed that are serving important stormwater control functions; protect areas that contribute to the scenic character of the watershed; preserve the biodiversity of the watershed; give municipal officials a tool to help them better understand what lands are important to the natural infrastructure of the watershed; and encourage municipalities to work together for the benefit of everyone in the watershed.

While working on this plan all existing planning efforts for each of the municipalities within the watershed were reviewed including documents such as Comprehensive Plans; Zoning, Subdivision and Land Development, and Floodplain ordinances; Greenway Plans; and County Natural Heritage Inventories. In addition, existing land use, existing natural infrastructure, and areas of special concern were inventoried throughout the watershed.

The analysis portion of this study utilizes Allegheny Land Trust’s (ALT) ALT GREENPRINT techniques to preserve what is termed the High Quality Unique Natural Infrastructure (HQ-UNI) of the watershed. This is done by assigning values based on specific criteria to the elements of unique natural infrastructure based on their ability to serve stormwater control and water quality functions, enhance scenic character, and preserve biodiversity. These areas of HQ-UNI create the PCW GREENPRINT for the watershed. The PCW GREENPRINT is then used to prioritize planning regions of the watershed based on the value of the HQ-UNI within each subwatershed. This gives the PCWA and/or municipal officials the ability to seek out properties which serve the greatest public benefit for conservation efforts. Additionally, the PCW GREENPRINT gives municipal officials a tool to determine where the lands which are important to the natural infrastructure of the watershed are located, which will help guide future development.

Finally, this report documents recommendations for the watershed. Included in the recommendations is a methodology for how the PCWA or local municipal officials can utilize this Land Conservation Model to ensure development does not impact the areas determined to be HQ-UNI. In addition, strategies for implementation, including suggestions on applicable land use and regulatory controls, as well as funding sources for furthering conservation efforts within the watershed are discussed and suggested.