Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays

Mapping Update Project

Stream viewOverview

In the Spring of 2008, legislation was passed and signed into law that involved substantive changes to Maryland’s Critical Area Program. Among other changes, Chapter 119 of the 2008 Laws of Maryland required that the State work cooperatively with local governments to update the Critical Area Maps in all affected jurisdictions. The legislation directed the Department of Natural Resources to prepare a Statewide Base Map that includes a State-determined shoreline and landward boundary of tidal wetlands and a digitally generated, geo-referenced 1,000-foot Critical Area boundary, as appropriate for integration into a Geographic Information System.

This Critical Area Mapping Update will allow local Critical Area maps to be incorporated into the “Maryland iMap System,” facilitate access to official Critical Area Maps via the internet, use current aerial imagery as a base map, and reflect current shoreline and wetland conditions. The resulting Critical Area Maps will provide a uniform, consistent, and seamless map product that can be easily updated. As part of the mapping update, the legislation required the Critical Area Commission to implement a pilot project in two counties in order to develop a mapping methodology that could be applied throughout the Critical Area. The counties selected were Baltimore County and Talbot County. The methodology that was developed involved the reproduction and rectification of historic shoreline and wetland data as a starting point. This information was then analyzed and interpreted relative to current true-color aerial imagery, Color-Infrared imagery (CIR), Light Detecting and Ranging (LIDAR) data, and topographic maps. In some cases, detailed project plans, permit data, and oblique photo imagery were also used to determine the extent of tidal wetlands and tidal influence in tributary streams. Limited site visits were performed to field verify on the ground conditions where tree cover restricted the view of the shoreline or where an analysis of the imagery did not allow for a clear determination.

Stream and leavesThroughout the mapping pilot project, an interdisciplinary team of professionals from the Critical Area Commission, the Department of Natural Resources, Salisbury University, the Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative, Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management, and the Talbot County Planning Office identified review points that warranted further analysis. Representatives of these groups evaluated and discussed all questionable areas to reach consensus regarding the most appropriate resolution. Every effort was made to ensure consistency and accuracy.

As the mapping update project progresses, the draft updated maps are being made available to the public, so that additional review and comment on the maps can take place. The draft maps and related supporting documentation are being presented at public information meetings, so that citizens and property owners can gain a better understanding of the process and see if their property is affected. State and local government staff are available at the public information meetings to talk directly with property owners.

Following the public information meetings, any areas requiring further review and analysis will be addressed, and necessary corrections will be made. The revised draft maps will then be formally transmitted from the Department of Natural Resources to the jurisdiction, and the Critical Area Commission will notify the jurisdiction that the mapping update project is complete as specified in the mapping legislation. The local government will then have 24 months to notify the public, and as appropriate to its legislative process, formally amend its program by adopting the Statewide Base Map with the shoreline and landward boundary of tidal wetlands, the digitally generated and geo-referenced 1,000-foot Critical Area boundary, and all applicable Critical Area designations.

More Information

Public Information Meetings are now being scheduled.
Click here for Meeting Dates and Locations and to Register Online.
(Registration is recommended to ensure appropriate space and staffing.)

If you are interested in finding out if your property is in the Critical Area or viewing the updated Critical Area boundary and designations, click here to access a map viewer that allows you the opportunity to input your property information and view the updated Critical Area boundary and designations.

Talbot County - 1972
The original Critical Area boundary was drawn manually on the 1972 Tidal Wetlands Maps.
 
Talbot County - 2007
The updated Critical Area Maps use current aerial imagery as a base map and when complete will be web-accessible and geo-referenced.

Critical Area Mapping Update Presentation October 2014

Click here to View Presentation about the Critical Area Mapping Update presented in Queen Anne's County as part of the public information meeting process.
(9 MB .pdf file)

For general questions ...

... or information about the Critical Area Program or questions relating to State oversight of local programs, e-mail Lisa.Hoerger@maryland.gov or call 410-260-3460.

Critical Area Commissison address & phone number

Cover of Bay Smart Guide, links to web content
A Citizen's Guide to
Maryland's Critical Area Program