Risks to Boston Harbor Islands Graphically Displayed (ArcNews Online)

GIS Provides Decision Support to National Recreation Area Stakeholders

The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is a national park created in 1996 by an act of Congress and is made up of 34 islands near the Greater Boston shoreline. The park is designed to protect the islands through public/private decision making that takes into account overarching goals, such as improving access; providing education; and conserving, protecting, and managing the natural and cultural resources for public use and enjoyment of the islands. The legislation defined a new model wherein the National Park Service (NPS) owns none of the islands, and the park is funded through a partnership of federal, state, and local governments and the private sector.

To meet criteria in the enabling legislation, such as educating the public, visitation to the islands had to increase. The resulting rise in boat traffic likely impacts wake effects, nesting habitats, shellfish beds, water turbidity, changes in rocky/soft intertidal communities, pollution, and noise. Researchers from Boston University's Geography Department used GIS to better visualize the effects of this traffic and support decisions related to managing this area.

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