PA Aquatic Community Classification Map

Pennslyvania Natural Heritage Program
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PA Aquatic Community Classification Map

The goal of the Pennsylvania Aquatic Community Classification (ACC) project was to describe patterns in aquatic biodiversity for the purpose of prioritizing conservation activities and informing aquatic resource management. Although assessments and aquatic inventories are numerous and ongoing in Pennsylvania’s waters, little public information for Pennsylvania and the surrounding region is available to natural resource managers, watershed groups, local government officials, conservation planners, and others about biodiversity and watershed quality.

For more information, visit the ACC website.

The full ACC report can be downloaded here. The GIS data presented on this map is available as shapefiles for download here.

Latitude & Longitude boxes track the coordinate position of the crosshair (center of map). To find specific coordinates on the map, enter Latitude/Longitude values in the boxes and click on the "Move to Lat/Long" button - Map will re-center to entered coordinates.
Large river reaches were selected as a conservation priority if they had 1) occurrences of quality community types from all three groups – mussels, macroinvertebrates and fish, and 2) fish or macroinvertebrate metric scores above the 90th percentile for all large river reaches. Alternatively, some reaches of large rivers were selected as a conservation priority as a result of the recommendations from regional experts that were familiar with individual river systems.
The Priority Restoration Watershed analysis indicates which watersheds are in the worst condition and are a priority for habitat restoration.
Tier 1 Restoration areas represents the most disturbed watersheds that exist in Pennsylvania. There is much physical alteration in these watersheds, and the in-stream habitat supports only the most pollution-tolerant organisms.
Tier 2 Restoration areas category are also impaired, but their need for restoration action may not be as immediate as those with Tier 1 status.
The methodology used to classify the Restoration Areas is explained in Chapter 11 of the ACC report.
Watershed Enhancement Areas are watersheds that do not qualify as "Conservation" or "Restoration" priorities. These Enhancement watersheds reflect conditions that are likely not in pristine condition, but are prime candidates for light restoration action because they are not as severly degraded as the Restoration watersheds.

Tier 1 Enhancement watersheds represent areas that are in the top half of this middle category; they are likely to be in good condition, but face some threats to water quality.
Tier 2 Enhancement watersheds are in the bottom half of this category, and represent watersheds that have significant water quality issues and could benefit greatly from restoration action.
The methodology used to classify the Enhancement Areas is explained in Chapter 12 of the ACC report.
The ACC study area includes the entire Delaware, Susquehanna, Allegheny and Monongahela River Basins and parts of the Erie, Genessee, Potomac and Ohio River Basins.
Use the Select a County dropdown list to zoom to a county of interest
Checkbox toggles the visibility of Pennsylvania County Boundaries and their labels
Watersheds are based on the USGS Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUC) 8. Click on the Download GIS Files button to download aquatic GIS layers associated with the watershed. All of the ACC GIS files are available for download at the ACC website.
Checkbox toggles the visibility of Watersheds which are based on the USGS Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUC) 8.
Conservation Priority Areas represent watersheds with the highest levels of biological diversity and low levels of human disturbance.
Tier 1 Conservation areas represent the top 10% of the watersheds measured.
Tier 2 Conservation areas represent the watersheds that scored between the top 10% and 20%.
The methodology used to classify the Conservation Areas is explained in Chapter 10 of the ACC report.
You may need to zoom further into the map to view township/municipal boundaries if you don't currently see them.
Use this link to add the ACC GIS layers directly to ArcMap on your machine (requires Version 9.2 or higher). Click "Open" in the window that displays to add the data directly to ArcMap or click "Save" to save a Layer File on your machine which can then be added to ArcMap manually. Using either ensures that you are using the most up-to-date information within your ArcMap software.
Use this link to add the ACC GIS layers directly to Google Earth on your machine (requires you have Google Earth installed). Click "Open" in the window that displays to add the data directly to Google Earth or click "Save" to save a KMZ File on your machine which can then be added to Google Earth manually. Using either ensures that you are using the most up-to-date information within your Google Earth software.

About this Map

The Pennsylvania Aquatic Community Classification (ACC) project describes patterns in aquatic biodiversity to help conservation activities and aquatic resource management in the region. This information provides a baseline for conserving flowing water systems and can be used to help assess the status of streams and rivers, prioritize high quality aquatic habitats for preservation, and select low quality habitats for restoration.

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Map Legend

Core BDA legend Conservation River Reaches
Priority Conservation Areas
Tier 1:Tier 1 Conservation Priorities Tier 2: Tier 2 Conservation Priorities
Priority Restoration Areas
Tier 1:Tier 1 Restoration Priorities Tier 2: Tier 2 Restoration Priorities
Watershed Enhancement Areas
Tier 1:Tier 1 Enhancement Priorities Tier 2: Tier 2 Enhancement Priorities
IBA legend ACC Study Area
County legend Counties
Municipalities Municipalities
Watershed legend HUC8 Watersheds
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View the GIS Layers in Google Earth