Delaware River Basin Project- Land Use Dynamics

With support from the William Penn Foundation, the CLUS established the Delaware River Basin Project- Land Use Dynamics in 2015. From 2015-2017, the research focus was on developing “A Land Cover Mapping, Modeling and Monitoring System for the Delaware River Basin in Support of Maintaining and Restoring Water Resources.” A second grant was later awarded by the Delaware Watershed Research Fund (2017-2020), expanding the focus to more widely consider climate change: “How will forest ecosystems and hydrologic processes in the Delaware River Basin be affected by climate change and land cover change?”

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

Affiliate Scholars

    Jacob Percey

    Graduate Student Fellow

    Jacob Percey is a second year Geoenvironmental Studies graduate student at Shippensburg University. He has a strong passion for both GIS and Geology and hopes to pursue these fields upon graduation. He is currently examining recent and potential forest loss from known and predicted transmission line development across the Delaware River Basin. In his spare time, Jake enjoys spending quality time with his family and pursing outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and camping.

    Projects: Delaware River Basin Project (2018)

        Patricia Newdeck

        Graduate Student Fellow

        Trish applied her BS in Geosciences (Penn State) toward an environmental consulting career where she performed soil and groundwater investigations and designed remediations plans for industrial and petrochemical clients.  As an SU graduate student, Trish is gaining GIS processing skills and and land use knowledge.  At CLUS, she applies her analytical, project management and visual graphic skills to support a passion for land conservation and sustainable communities.  When away from the computer, she adventures on land & water with her teenage sons or slings clay at the ceramic studio.

        Projects: Minigrant storymap for the South Mountain Partnership (2017), DWRF Project (2018), ATC Demographics Project (2019), General CLUS Support (2018-2019)

            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 (2015-2017), Poconos-Kittatinny Cluster Consulting (2017), Rhyolite Project for South Mountain Partnership (2018)

                Caitlin Lucas

                Undergraduate Student Fellow

                Caitlin graduated in May 2017 from the Geoenvironmental Studies program with certification in GIS. She has expertise in mapping, and is pursuing a career in GIS applicable to conservation and environmental remediation. During her time with the CLUS, Caitlin gathered GIS-contact data, produced several maps, conducted analyses, and researched land use change related to energy infrastructure in the Delaware River Basin. She has studied a broad range of topics and has conducted student research in Sea Level Rise in the Eastern Shore Region of Virginia in addition to her research for our team.

                Projects: Delaware River Basin Project (2015-2017)

                  Dorlisa Minnick, Ph.D.

                  Associate 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

                  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.

                  Scott Drzyzga, Ph.D., GISP

                  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). Scott is also a certified Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) pilot that uses small drones to collect aerial photography.

                  Claire Jantz, Ph.D. – Director

                  Professor, Department of Geography-Earth Science

                  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.

                  Alfonso Yáñez Morillo

                  Research Analyst, Center for Land Use and Sustainability

                  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. Alfonso is a certified Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) pilot.

                  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 Project Manager for the Center for Land Use and Sustainability, she oversees various research initiatives and leads communication efforts. Antonia has a background in community outreach and science education, and enjoys communicating science to diverse audiences.