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Using GIS to Develop, Prioritize and Track Planning Goals

Aug 2, 2016

As communities grow, so too do the intensity and diversity of land use activities. To keep up, towns and regional organizations are turning to web-based geographic information systems (GIS) to develop a more collaborative and engaging way of planning. Successful planning can no longer be done site by site, but rather needs to take into account the greater perspective of surrounding properties, numerous diverse stakeholders, and multiple priorities in a limited resource environment.

The ArcGIS Mohawk River Watershed Web App is available online at http://mohawkri

The ArcGIS Mohawk River Watershed Web App is available online.  See: Web-Based Application: Mohawk River Watershed Management Plan Implementation Tracking

In a recent, innovative project with the Mohawk River Coalition, Stone used GIS technologies to help them develop an integrated and holistic watershed management plan - including tracking the implementation of those plans - to make better decisions. Using this solution, the Coalition, a group of 40 stakeholders from 14 counties in New York, was able to:

  • Improve decision making based on real data. By collecting, developing, illustrating and hosting numerous GIS datasets, including social, economic and environmental information, stakeholders were able to characterize the watershed, assess particular needs, and develop data-driven management recommendations and strategies.
  • Prioritize activities in a complex environment. With GIS datasets, stakeholders were able to evaluate sub-watersheds based on specific criteria like water quality, habitat and land use to prioritize management activities within diverse landscapes.
  • Track the implementation of management plans and strategies. Coalition members can update a web ArcGIS map to make updates about progress toward completion of different tasks or management activities and visualize progress of management strategies.
  • Increase public participation in planning process. A web ArcGIS mapping application allows the public to stay informed about planning decisions and provide feedback on proposed projects and land-use changes.
  • Promote economic development. GIS allows planners and prospective developers better understand and assess opportunities for development and economic revitalization.
  • Provide transparency for decisions. With a web ArcGIS map, the public can go online and view the progress of the management plans and strategies, as well as priorities, to ensure that management activities align with their interests and needs.


GIS can help local leaders understand their current infrastructure and potential projects, and at the same time share that information broadly so they can address the wide-range of issues that come with diverse landscapes and multiple stakeholders, both of which can span across towns, counties and districts.

Contact Katie Budreski, Senior GIS Specialist, at to learn more!

Related links

Mohawk River Watershed Web Application

Mohawk River Watershed Coalition Website

CASE STUDY: Mohawk River Watershed Management Plan and Implementation Tracking Application

Web-Based Application: Mohawk River Watershed Management Plan Implementation Tracking