Environmental Management

, Volume 62, Issue 6, pp 1007–1024 | Cite as

Leveraging Big Data Towards Functionally-Based, Catchment Scale Restoration Prioritization

  • John P. LovetteEmail author
  • Jonathan M. Duncan
  • Lindsey S. Smart
  • John P. Fay
  • Lydia P. Olander
  • Dean L. Urban
  • Nancy Daly
  • Jamie Blackwell
  • Anne B. Hoos
  • Ana María García
  • Lawrence E. Band


The persistence of freshwater degradation has necessitated the growth of an expansive stream and wetland restoration industry, yet restoration prioritization at broad spatial extents is still limited and ad-hoc restoration prevails. The River Basin Restoration Prioritization tool has been developed to incorporate vetted, distributed data models into a catchment scale restoration prioritization framework. Catchment baseline condition and potential improvement with restoration activity is calculated for all National Hydrography Dataset stream reaches and catchments in North Carolina and compared to other catchments within the river subbasin to assess where restoration efforts may best be focused. Hydrologic, water quality, and aquatic habitat quality conditions are assessed with peak flood flow, nitrogen and phosphorus loading, and aquatic species distribution models. The modular nature of the tool leaves ample opportunity for future incorporation of novel and improved datasets to better represent the holistic health of a watershed, and the nature of the datasets used herein allow this framework to be applied at much broader scales than North Carolina.


Restoration Watershed approach Catchment Watershed function 



This project was funded by the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Ecosystem Enhancement Program. We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful contributions to this manuscript, as well as Steve Preston and Chad Wagner of USGS for their review comments. We would also like to thank staff at NC DEQ for their guidance in developing, implementing, and continuing to improve this tool.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John P. Lovette
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jonathan M. Duncan
    • 2
  • Lindsey S. Smart
    • 3
  • John P. Fay
    • 4
  • Lydia P. Olander
    • 5
  • Dean L. Urban
    • 4
  • Nancy Daly
    • 6
    • 7
  • Jamie Blackwell
    • 7
  • Anne B. Hoos
    • 8
  • Ana María García
    • 9
  • Lawrence E. Band
    • 10
    • 11
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecosystem Science and ManagementPennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Forestry and Environmental ResourcesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  4. 4.Nicholas School of the EnvironmentDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  5. 5.Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy SolutionsDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  6. 6.Wake County Department of Environmental ServicesRaleighUSA
  7. 7.North Carolina Department of Environmental QualityDivision of Mitigation ServicesRaleighUSA
  8. 8.U.S. Geological SurveyLower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science CenterNashvilleUSA
  9. 9.U.S. Geological SurveySouth Atlantic Water Science CenterRaleighUSA
  10. 10.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  11. 11.Department of Engineering Systems and EnvironmentUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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