WGWC Public Meeting
Western Wildlife Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT)
Several states have released wildlife mapping tools that will become the foundation for displaying crucial wildlife and corridor information across the region. In addition to helping states establish their individual CHATs, the Wildlife Council is creating a regional CHAT to provide an informed and continually updated picture of crucial wildlife habitat across the West. The state and regional CHATs will be non-regulatory, and will give project planners and the general public access to credible scientific data on a broad scale for use in project analysis, siting and planning. This includes large-scale development projects spanning multiple jurisdictions.
The information being developed will be made publically available online by states across the entire region, and any interested party will be able to access and use the GIS-based tools that are designed to be easily interpreted. The CHAT is scheduled for completion in 2013. More information on the development and use of the CHAT is available in an August 2011 White Paper.
The Wildlife Council coordinates with federal land and natural resource management agencies through the State-Federal Implementation Group (SFIG), which was formed to implement a 2009 MOU between the Governors and the Secretaries of Agriculture, Energy and Interior. The MOU calls for coordination among the agencies to support the development of the state CHATs. In June 2011 the Wildlife Council and SFIG signed an agreement to strengthen this coordination.
In 2010, the Council formed a Stakeholder Advisory Group for the purpose of acting as a sounding board for Council activities and products and to provide periodic briefings to the Council on issues of mutual interest. The advisory group’s tasks will evolve over time.
Report on Wildlife Corridors and Habitat
The Wildlife Council coordinates and oversees implementation of the recommendations made in WGA’s (2008) report, Wildlife Corridors Initiative. The Council’s goal and primary tasks are to “identify key wildlife corridors and crucial wildlife habitats in the West, and conserve these lands—and the vast wildlife species that depend upon them—for future generations.”
The report was developed through a multi-state collaborative effort that included six working groups, each of which was charged with developing findings and recommendations on various aspects of wildlife corridors and crucial habitat.
The mission of the Council, consistent with WGA policy, is to identify key wildlife corridors and crucial wildlife habitats in the West and to develop and coordinate implementation of needed policy options and tools for conserving those landscapes.
Western Renewable Energy Zones:
State-approved Wildlife Maps
The Governors tasked the Council with providing wildlife sensitivity information for the Western Renewable Energy Zones project. Products prepared include a Wildlife data request; criteria for categorizing the sensitivity of wildlife data; and a chart that details the datasets included in the map and how they were categorized. A final report summarizing the data collection and mapping process was prepared by NatureServe, which served as technical consultants for this effort.
A monumental effort is underway in the Western states to develop and implement a range-wide strategy for the conservation and management of the Greater sage-grouse, which has been designated as a “candidate” species for protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The governors have adopted policy urging the U.S. Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture to support state and local efforts in implementing their conservation plans at this critical juncture.
The Western Governors produce an annual inventory of state and local conservation measures for sage-grouse. Several successful initiatives are already in place, including an array of local working groups.
See more information on the Greater Sage-Grouse Task Force and inventory work underway of efforts to conserve Sage Grouse habitat.
WGA thanks the following organizations for their support of the Western Governors’ Wildlife Council:
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
U.S. Department of Energy
U.S. Forest Service