The Ecological Prioritization GIS Tool (Tool) was developed to identify priority areas for preservation and restoration of land and water resources within the County. The Tool compiles and analyzes a wider variety of natural and cultural resource data into implementable outputs that make the information easy to visualize across the landscape, and focuses on improving ecological connectivity across watersheds. The Tool produces two unique outputs, a preservation score and a restoration score. The preservation score identifies and prioritizes areas of high environmental value for protection. The restoration score identifies areas with high restoration potential that, if restored, have the greatest potential to contribute to the desired environmental value. Both of these outputs provide useful information to decision-makers about where and why to prioritize land protection, preservation, and restoration efforts. Tool results are currently being used in the Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department’s ecological preservation, restoration and management master planning documentation.
Using the Tool
The Tool is a set of GIS-based models addressing the role of wetland protection and restoration within the larger context of landscape-based fish and wildlife habitat conservation. The Tool utilizes concepts and techniques based on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' GIS wildlife tools and data collection methods. The end products include maps which display information used to advance conservation planning in Ozaukee County. The map below demonstrates a Tool output - multiple data layers combined to reveal and rank wildlife habitat areas. A higher Habitat Quality Index (HQI) score suggests higher potential of support for Species of Local Conservation Interest (SLCI).
The Tool's identification of high HQI areas along Mole Creek, Ulao Creek and the Little Menomonee River helped to prioritize, initiate and support habitat enhancement projects at these sites.