Published since 1946
Sample Report Card for Evaluating Basin Health Completed
The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences (UMCES) recently completed a preliminary report card to provide an assessment of conditions in sample river basins. The report card can be used as a tool for prioritization and restoration decisions and as an outreach tool for helping communicate with the public. The preliminary report card was produced to provide a clear example of how such report cards could be used across other river basins and to determine how the report card should be improved for future iterations.
The example report card focused on the Tennessee River Basin. It was designed to serve as an initial assessment of environmental stressors, condition and management response in the basin. Members of the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (ALCC) and the Tennessee River Basin Planning Network staff worked closely along with regional experts to decide on the potential values, stressor and management indicators.
To translate the measured variables into letter grades, the measurements were standardized to a 0-100 scale and then aggregated to the letter scores, e.g. 80-100 = A. The goal teams and expert advisors determined through data analysis what data values represented good and bad grades, and those were translated into the final scoring scheme. Multiple scoring methods were used; some data had prior rating of observations or results, and were measured against a regionally specific desired condition. Some of the scores were based on spatial data, for amount of certain land cover types scored based on percentage of that type and received high or low scores depending on the benefit of that habitat type to the basin. Some of the data were compared to the national average.
The Tennessee River Basin report card provides a snapshot assessment of ecosystem stressors, condition and protection. The resulting score for the Tennessee River Basin was C – A Moderately Health Basin. A video presentation and more information on the report card can be found on the ALCC website.