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Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool

Decision Support for Crucial Habitat Across the West

A GIS-based decision support system providing quick access to state fish and wildlife agency priorities to deliver data-driven solutions for proactive decision-making.

About CHAT

Conservation through information exchange & working partnerships

To help ensure both wildlife and local economies remain viable, Western Governors asked the Western Governors’ Association 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 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 to provide conservation through information exchange and working partherships:

PURPOSE: PROVIDE A PUBLIC RESOURCE OF STATE AGENCY DATA

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 HEALTY 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 ”

CHAT is a Decision Support System

Early Planning Tool

CHAT is an early planning assessment tool used to flag circumstances in which potential impacts are of a serious enough nature to require additional inquiry at a finer scale, and CHAT helps to prioritize and plan conservation efforts.


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.


State-vetted Priorities

Most importantly, the data is vetted though a state-approval process to ensure it represents state priorities, and the hexagon framework allows states to provide data to the public that may otherwise not be available due to location sensitivites.

History

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.


Members List

Jennifer Psyllakis, WAFWA CHAT Director Sponsor
British Columbia, Fish and Wildlife Branch
Sue Rodman, Policy Team Member
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Miles Spathelf, Technology Team Member
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Clay Crowder, Policy Team Member
Arizona Game and Fish Department
Julie Mikolajczyk, Technology Team Member
Arizona Game and Fish Department
Austin Smith, Technology Team Member
Arizona Game and Fish Department
Reid Dewalt, Policy Team Member
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Seth Mcclean, Technology Team Member
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Sharon Kiefer, Policy Team Member
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Frank Edelmann, Technology Team Member
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Sean Yancey, Policy Team Member
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism
Dana Peterson, Technology Team Member
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism
Charlie Sperry, Policy Team Member
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Renee Lemon, Policy Team Member
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Dawn Anderson, Technology Team Member
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Tim McCoy, Policy Team Member
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Caroline Jezierski, Technology Team Member
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Rachel Simpson, Technology Team Member
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Jen Newmark, Policy Team Member
Nevada Department of Wildlife
Jinna Larkin, Technology Team Member
Nevada Department of Wildlife
VACANT, Technology Team Member
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Keith Waag, Policy/Tech Team Member
Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation
Andrea Hanson, Policy Team Member
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Arthur Rodriguez, Technology Team Member
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Hilary Morey, Policy/Tech Team Member
South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks
Duane German, Technology Team Member
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Julie C. Wicker, Policy Team Member
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Eric Edgley, Technology Team Member
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Danny Summers, Policy Team Member
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
VACANT, Policy Team Member
Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
Brian Cosentino, Technology Team Member
Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
Scott Smith, Policy Team Member
Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Kirk Nordyke, Technology Team Member
Wyoming Game and Fish Department