Land for Water


The Watershed Management Priority Index of Greater Chattanooga

The greater Chattanooga region is nestled within the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains and spans from the Cumberland Plateau to the Southern Blue Ridge escarpment. With some of the country’s highest aquatic biodiversity and most picturesque mountain streams, the region is home to several native and threatened species, and a hot spot for fishing and paddle sports alike.

Experts in Thrive Regional Partnership’s Natural Treasures Alliance work collaboratively, leveraging science-based data, to prioritize areas within the region that contribute to the health of these streams, ecosystems, and human populations as they become threatened by development activities and encroachment.

Using readily available data, Thrive’s GIS partners at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Interdisciplinary Geospatial Technology Lab (IGTLab) have developed this Watershed Management Conservation Index (WMPI) that allows stakeholders to analyze landscape features that affect water quality across the region.

Today, the greater Chattanooga region is 58% forest and 30% grassland, pasture, or cropland. The conservation of these existing forest and agriculture lands is a priority for good water quality now and for future generations.

This index is intended to guide communities, policymakers, and conservationists in prioritizing lands for protection, based on factors that affect the shared waterways of the region. It is also a tool to educate landowners and other stakeholders about the benefits that these lands can offer to stream health, ensuring that the region retains its public health, biodiversity, recreation opportunities, and splendor.

Tips for using the index:

  1. The first tab is the WMPI model. It is a combination of the several layers outlined in the tabs to the right.

  2. Note the legend in the description of the WMPI tab. The brighter the red, the higher the conservation priority.

  3. Click through the tabs to the right to see specific data related to land cover, slope, protected lands, etc.

  4. Double click on a point on the map to zoom in.

  5. Click and drag the map to move.