WEBINAR: See a demonstration of our Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool.
The Western Governors’ Wildlife Council, at the direction of the Governors, is developing policies and tools to assist states in identifying and conserving crucial wildlife habitat and corridors across the region. While individual states are compiling information within their borders, they also are working with neighboring states to improve the regional understanding of areas important to wildlife to better inform land use planning efforts.
One tool developed by the Wildlife Council is the Western Governors' Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT), a cooperative effort of 16 Western states to provide the public and industry a high-level overview of "crucial habitat" across the West. The tool was launched Dec. 12, 2013, at the WGA Winter Meeting.
Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT)
In an effort to map crucial wildlife habitat across the West, the Western Governors' Wildlife Council has created an online GIS-mapping tool that helps planners in the energy, transportation, and land use arenas. The Western Governors' Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) formally launched on Dec. 12, 2013 at westgovchat.org.
Several states have released their own state CHATs that will display crucial wildlife and corridor information across the region. The state CHATs and Western Governors' CHAT 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.
For information on the development and use of the Western Governors' CHAT, see the Wildlife Council 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.
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. Or, read the Sage Grouse Task Force letter to Secretary Ken Salazar (DOI) (6/29/2012).