A GIS-based decision support system providing quick access to state fish and wildlife agency priorities related to crucial habitats and important migration areas.
To help ensure both wildlife and local economies remain viable, Western Governors asked the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) in 2007 to examine how state wildlife agencies could be more collaborative and innovative as they provide wildlife species and habitat information to their various customers, including federal agencies, state agencies, local and tribal governments, conservation advocates, industry, and private landowners. As a result, Western Governors Association established the Western Governors’ Wildlife Council, named their representatives to it, and asked it to identify key wildlife corridors and crucial wildlife habitats in the West and to make that information publicly available. That effort resulted in the development of the west-wide Crucial Habitat Assessment Too (CHAT) in 2013. Today, that effort continues under the guidance of WAFWA to provide conservation through information exchange and working partnerships:
PURPOSE: PUBLIC RESOURCE OF STATE AGENCY PRIORITIES
CHAT delivers a wildlife conservation tool designed to provide the public easy access to location-based information on state fish and wildlife agency conservation priorities at a landscape level.
“Easily accessible state agency data is critical to informed land use, land planning and natural resource decisions.”
FOCUS: CRUCIAL HABITAT & IMPORTANT MIGRATION AREAS
CHAT focuses on providing the most credible data source on crucial wildlife habitats and important migration/movement areas across the western North American landscape.
“Crucial habitats are places containing the resources that are necessary for the survival and reproduction of wildlife.”
OUTCOME: PROMOTE HEALTHY PRODUCTIVE LANDSCAPES
Utilization of CHAT promotes the incorporation of state-based wildlife conservation values in large-scale land use planning to provide healthy and productive landscapes across the west.
“We strive to inform natural resource decisions and promote cooperative conservation in the West. ”
Early Planning Tool
CHAT helps to prioritize and plan conservation efforts by flagging circumstances in which potential impacts are of a serious enough nature to require additional inquiry at a finer scale.
Seamless Landscape View
CHAT participating states collaborate to provide a seamless view of state priorities across the west in order to promote landscape level planning efforts, and to provide users with easily accessible data across state boundaries.
Most importantly, the data is vetted though a state-approval process to ensure it represents state priorities. The hexagon framework allows states to provide data to the public that may otherwise not be available due to location sensitivites.
When the Western Governors adopted their Wildlife Corridors Initiative Report in 2008, they created the Western Governors’ Wildlife Council and tasked its members with developing policies and tools to identify and conserve crucial wildlife habitat and corridors across the region. The Wildlife Council first approached the Governors’ directive by launching regional pilot projects in 2010 with support from a grant from the Department of Energy. The year-long pilot projects allowed the Wildlife Council to test the framework outlined in their White Paper, helping to refine their vision. In August 2011, the Wildlife Council established a plan to develop a West-wide tool with the goal of launching a public and regionally compatible crucial habitat GIS tool by 2013. All the while, the Wildlife Council has continued to support the development of state-specific CHATs in individual states. Western Governors launched CHAT in December 2013 as the Western Governors’ Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) and managed it through 2014. In April 2015, Western Governors transferred full responsibility for CHAT to WAFWA ,and the tool was renamed the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies CHAT.
The CHAT summer meeting is fast approaching and we’re preparing for another full agenda with some key topics to promote and build upon the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT). Please join us on July 15th from 1:00pm to 5:00pm MST as part of the WAFWA 2021 Summer Conference. Registration and agenda is available HERE.