Accurate Land Cover Development for Rapidly Growing Watersheds
Accurate digital land cover data is vital to correctly estimating the impacts of nonpoint source pollution on a watershed. However, producing reasonable digital data characterizing current land conditions in a watershed can be challenging due to recent rapid growth in historically rural areas, insufficient monetary and personnel resources, and technical difficulties. This paper describes the iterative process used to create digital existing and future land cover data for use in the Forsyth County, Hall County, and the City of Gainesville Community Watershed Assessment. Significant efforts were made to develop realistic, contiguous data that characterize a combination of land cover and land use in a geographic information system (GIS) format, using the most recent data sources possible. These efforts included integrating numerous different hard copy and digital data sources to arrive at reasonable existing and future land cover information that the project stakeholders found acceptable for water quality modeling purposes.