MS4/TMDL Program Support Tree Planting Planning and Implementation

Coastal Resources, Inc. (CRI) assisted the Maryland State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) in meeting the requirements of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL through compliance with the requirements established in Maryland’s Watershed Implementation Plan for the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (WIP). MDOT SHA maintains MS4 permit coverage for the MDOT SHA roadway in the 11 Maryland counties holding MS4 permits. CRI assisted with various TMDL/MS4 permit compliance tasks throughout these counties to locate, map, provide data on existing conditions for design, and verify project implementation. Examples of some of these tasks are detailed below:


CRIprovided planning services on 2 TMDL Site Selection Contracts (1 in District 7, covering Carroll, Frederick, and Howard Counties, and 1 in District 6, in Washington County). Site searches were conducted to identify potential new TMDL tree planting locations along SHA-owned roadways and SHA-owned properties. CRI was both directly responsible for Site Selection and Design within a portion of Howard County, and also responsible for the Quality Control (QC) management of all data and mapping products developed by numerous other contractors under both contracts.

CRI conducted desktop evaluations of potential planting locations within Howard County within SHA-owned roadways and properties. The evaluation was based on the GIS data provided by MDOT SHA, specifically ROW information, stormwater areas, and existing TMDL planting areas, as well as publicly available data, including parcel information and aerial imagery. CRI used the Site Selection Desktop Evaluation Protocol to screen MDOT SHA lands for planting areas of appropriate size, while accounting for offsets from landscape features like guardrails, powerlines, and high-speed roads. This evaluation was an initial screening in GIS to provide sites that met established criteria to proceed into the field investigation phase. Potential sites were digitized into a geodatabase for tracking throughout the site selection process. CRI also provided QC of all site selection sites for the 2 contracts, providing feedback to the creation teams on whether sites should continue forward or be removed based on the protocols.

Based on the results of the desktop evaluation, CRI conducted a field investigation of over 380 potential new TMDL Tree Planting sites. For each site, CRI verified the base information from the desktop review against field observations; visually confirmed current vegetation issues and land use; identified site constraints such as natural resources, site accessibility, and utilities; investigated current planting conditions; and documented the field investigation with photos. CRI prepared appropriate documentation of each file view using the MDOT SHA provided tools as per the Field Investigation Protocol, including ArcCollector, to update online geodatabases of the sites while in the field. Sites or portions of sites that were determined to be unsuitable during the field investigation were noted and tracked within GIS. Once the field work was completed, CRI compiled photos and the field investigation information.

Tree Planting Map

Once all site investigations were completed, CRI prepared the GIS data submission as per the Field Investigation Protocol, including attribute and geometry updates to data based on the field reviews. Photos were labeled and processed to correspond to each of the sites that were visited. CRI was responsible for the QC of all site investigations across all MDOT SHA contractors working in all counties, to ensure proper data collection had been performed, in preparation for mapbook development.

The field-investigated sites determined to be appropriate for planting, once all offsets and constraints were addressed, were compiled into county-specific mapbooks. These mapbooks were distributed for review by all of MDOT SHA’s divisions, to ensure there were no conflicts with other MDOT SHA projects prior to design. CRI was responsible for the QC of all mapbooks, as well as the distribution of the mapbooks to the appropriate MDOT SHA divisions, and collection of division comments and related revisions in preparation for site design.

Planting Site Verifications

CRI also provides on-going support for verification and maintenance of planting sites. These planting sites have gone through the design process and have been planted. To confirm that the sites are performing properly and to ensure that MDOT SHA can receive credit for planted acreages, field investigations are performed according to MDOT SHA protocols.

Over 3 seasons, CRI performed verifications on over 300 sites. This entailed the development of field mapping to accompany the ArcCollector application used with iPads in the field during site visits. Plot sampling or total tree counts, as dictated by site size, were conducted to establish whether a site was fully performing, needed supplemental plantings, or needed to be abandoned. With each round of site verifications, CRI developed field maps, collected all necessary data while in the field, and updated the TMDL Planting database with new information and geometry edits as necessary. Photo documentation was collected, and post-processed to be properly labeled for geodatabase entry.  CRI also conducted maintenance access verification for planted sites to identify appropriate parking locations for on-going vegetative maintenance activities and provided information on site condition to address potential vandalism and other maintenance concerns. 


Maryland, Statewide


MDOT State Highway Administration – Environmental Programs Division

Key Services:

  • Tree Planting Site Search and Selection
  • Concept Design
  • Site Planting Verifications
  • Geodatabase Management