Ecosystem Benefits

Ecosystem Benefits Browser

The Chesapeake Bay Program developed the Ecosystem Benefits Browser, an interactive tool that visualizes and summarizes the Goals, Outcomes, and Co-Benefits associated with CAST BMPs. The button below will take you to the tool.

Ecosystem Benefits Browser

BMP Co-Benefits

In addition to nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment goals, there may be additional, complementary objectives to BMP implementation, called co-benefits. Examples of co-benefits include: improve stream health, increase fish habitat, and reduce toxic contaminants. Identifying these additional objectives early in the planning process allows for selection of BMPs that meet the load reduction goals as well as achieve these complementary objectives.

The impacts of co-benefits are described in the fact sheets below. Each includes contact information for each state for more information.

The EnviroAtlas Interactive Map is a tool that was developed collaboratively by EPA in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other federal non-profit organizations, universities, and communities including state, county, and city-level stakeholders. This easy-to-use, interactive mapping application does not require any GIS skills to use and provides ready access to 500+ maps and multiple analysis tools. Now available in EnviroAtlas, is the Compare My Area Tool. Compare My Area lets you select a location on the map and view summarized information for your area of interest and compare those values to surrounding county and state summarized values, providing information about your immediate neighborhood in the context of the surrounding area.

Maximizing Co-Benefits

BMPs are ranked to indicate their impact on the co-benefits evaluated. This information will be incorporated into CAST scenario results at a later date. In the meantime, the BMP co-benefit impacts are provided at the links below. This scoring matrix can be used in multiple ways:

To characterize the additional benefits of their BMP strategy beyond nutrient and sediment reductions. They can use the matrix either to select priority BMPs or to identify the additional benefits of a BMP strategy, especially for BMPs that provide similar nutrient and sediment reductions.

To make decisions about which BMPs to adopt based on management strategy priorities.

To help sell a restoration plan to local watershed groups and government officials by presenting the additional benefits that can be derived from allocating resources for BMP implementation to reduce nutrient and sediment loads.

It is important to minimize the unintended consequences of the matrix. Some BMPs might not be relevant to the user’s predominant land uses and should be excluded from consideration. Similarly, some management strategies might not be relevant to some communities. Communities might want to weigh the scores or management strategies to more accurately reflect their local circumstances and priorities. Users should understand that this is an option and that they can include site-specific details about BMPs in the scoring to allow for a more customizable matrix. It is possible that the scoring system will be taken as a final recommendation of the best, or recommended, BMPs. That is not the intent of the matrix. Users should not be overly reliant on the results of the scoring in determining their BMP funding priorities. Because local conditions vary throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, no single BMP is the one overall best practice that fits all circumstances. For example, some BMPs are more suited to one land use or soil type than to another. This matrix does not provide that type of information.