Delaware River Basin Project- Land Use Dynamics

Project Title: A Land Cover Mapping, Modeling and Monitoring System for the Delaware River Basin in Support of Maintaining and Restoring Water Resources; How will forest ecosystems and hydrologic processes in the Delaware River Basin be affected by climate change and land cover change?
January 2015 – June 2016; January 2017– December 2020
Funding Source: 
William Penn Foundation; Delaware Watershed Research Fund


A watershed of over 13,000 square miles, the Delaware River Basin (DRB) provides water resources for roughly 5% of the US population – over 15 million people – including roughly 7 million people in New York City and northern New Jersey who live outside of the Basin (DRBC 2013). The DRB faces significant challenges: many waterways still do not meet the stated goals of the Clean Water Act to be fishable and swimmable (DRBC 2012), population growth and associated land cover changes are a concern for water supply and water quality (Jantz and Morlock 2011), gas drilling is emerging as a new industry with impacts on water supply and water quality, and climate change brings threats of sea level rise and the potential for more extreme droughts and flooding.

Reliable and regular land cover data are essential to address these challenges, as is the need for forecasting land cover changes in order to continually prioritize restoration and protection investments. These products need to be available Basin-wide in order to ensure conservation actions are targeted strategically. To address these needs, this project addresses three related components:

  • High resolution Lidar-based land cover mapping
  • Development of a Basin-wide land cover modeling tool
  • Feasibility study for long-term land cover change monitoring

With support from the Delaware Watershed Research Fund, a team of scientists from Shippensburg University and Northern Arizona University will connect models of land cover change, climate change, hydrology and tree species to address the impact of future development and environmental change in the Delaware River Basin. Learn more.

Project Partners

Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne
UVM Spatial Analysis Lab

With support from the William Penn Foundation, the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis lab is building a high resolution (1m x 1m) LiDAR-based land cover dataset for all 43 counties that cover the Delaware River Basin watershed.

Peter Claggett
Research Geographer
US Geological Survey
Chesapeake Bay Program

Together with our partners at the US Geological Survey, we are modeling future land use change based on existing data. These computer simulation tools are needed to evaluate and visualize land cover change forecasts under alternate future scenarios.

Scott Goetz, Ph.D.
School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems
Geospatial Research and Information Laboratory

Patrick Jantz, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor
School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems
Geospatial Research and Information Laboratory

Over the next three years, a team of scientists from Shippensburg University and Northern Arizona University will connect models of land cover change, climate change, hydrology and tree species to address the impact of future development and environmental change in the DRB.

Funding Support
Funding for this project comes from the William Penn Foundation. The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance opportunity, ensure sustainability, and enable effective solutions. Since inception, the Foundation has made nearly 10,000 grants totaling over $1.6 billion. The Foundation’s assets exceed $2.3 billion as of Nov. 30, 2014. More information about the foundation is available on its website at
Affiliated Scientists:

Claire Jantz, Ph.D. – Director

Professor, Department of Geography-Earth Science

Project Lead: Delaware River Basin

B.A. in College Scholars from University of Tennessee
M.A. in Geography from University of Maryland
Ph.D. in Geography from University of Maryland

Dr. Claire Jantz is the Director of the CLUS. She has extensive expertise in land use and land cover change analysis and modeling, and interdisciplinary research. Dr. Jantz has particular expertise within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the Delaware River Basin, and the Delmarva Peninsula. She has participated in several collaborative research efforts funded by NASA, Maryland SeaGrant, NPS, and the William Penn Foundation.

Scott Drzyzga, Ph.D., GISP – GIScience Director

Professor, Department of Geography-Earth Sciences

B.A. in Geography from State University of New York at Geneseo
M.A. in Geography from Michigan State University
Ph.D. in Geography from Michigan State University

Dr. Drzyzga is the GIScience Director for the CLUS. He is an experienced specialist in geographic information science and technology, is a certified Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP).

Antonia Price

Project Manager, Department of Geography-Earth Science

H.B.S. in Biology from University of Utah

Antonia received an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Utah, with Undergraduate Research Scholar designation. As the coordinator for the Delaware River Basin Project- Land Use Dynamics, she leads communication efforts in the 43 county region of the DRB, in the form of websites, social media, surveys, and quarterly newsletters. Antonia has a background in community outreach and science education, and enjoys communicating science to diverse audiences.

Alfonso Yáñez Morillo

Research Analyst, Department of Geography-Earth Science

A.S. in forest engineering from the Universidad Politecnica of Madrid
B.S. in biology from the Universidad Complutense of Madrid
M.S. in environmental management and administration from the Fundación Biodiversidad

Alfonso specializes in landscape ecology and connectivity and has over 10 years experience applying GIS to a wide range of environmental consultancy projects. Focus areas include environmental impact assessments, land use change, planning evaluation, forest fires, and ecological flows regimes.

Tim Hawkins, Ph.D.

Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator, Department of Geography-Earth Science

B.A. from Colgate University
M.S. from Arizona State University
Ph.D. from Arizona State University

My research focus is hydroclimatology. Specifically, focus on future streamflow and watershed-wide hydrologic conditions in a changing climate. I also dabble in urban climatology.

Christopher Woltemade, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Geography-Earth Science

B.A. in Geography, Ohio Wesleyan University
M.S. in Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.S. in Water Resources Management, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ph.D. in Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison

My background integrates hydrology, fluvial geomorphology, water resources planning and policy, and environmental engineering. Most of my work has addressed applied problems, such as:

• Managing stream temperatures to support native salmonids in coastal California
• Managing quarry pumping discharge in a Cumberland County, Pennsylvania karst landscape
• Fluvial geomorphic monitoring of stream channel and riparian zone restoration on Larry’s Creek, Pennsylvania
• Economic efficiency of residential water conservation
• Impacts of residential soil compaction on infiltration and stormwater runoff in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

Dorlisa Minnick, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work & Gerontology

B.A. in Social Work from Shippensburg University
M.S.W. from S.U.N.Y. – Stony Brook
Ph.D. in Social Work from The Catholic University of America

Dr. Dorlisa Minnick believes social and environmental justice is inextricably tied together in order to build sustainable communities. She has experience in designing, implementing, and disseminating results from community assessments focused on the social environments of marginalized populations. She has co-led training to increase community organizing capacity of Science Festival Alliance membership in their efforts to make science accessible in their local communities.

  • Tel: 717-477-1785
  • Location: College of Education & Human Services

Joshua Barth

Graduate Student Fellow

Joshua earned an A.S. in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Burlington County College and a B.S. in Geology from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He is currently pursuing a M.S. in Geoenvironmental Studies at Shippensburg University. Joshua enjoys teaching through nature walks and other outdoor activities and works as an environmental educator at Palmyra Cove Nature Park.

Projects: Delaware River Basin Project, Poconos-Kittatinny Cluster Consulting, Rhyolite Project