The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (DWFW) has just launched a free online mapping tool that displays information about key fish and wildlife species and critical wildlife habitat. The Priority Habitats and Species site unlocks much of the information needed by local, state and federal agencies for land-use permits that used to require a request and a fee. The site displays geographical and biological data for 200 fish and wildlife species that are protected, along with the location of 20 types of habitat that are critical to their survival.
The site opens up species and habitat data and reinforces the authoritative status by making this best available science readily available to the public and key stakeholders. These details can now more readily inform local planning, development projects, conservation strategies, incentive programs, and other land use applications. While the site provides a great level of detail, the WDFW strongly recommends a field visit by a fish and wildlife biologist or habitat expert to make determinations about species presence, absence, or exact location.
This new website is one of several recently launched interactive mapping systems now available on the WDFW website that incorporates base maps and imagery from other state agencies. These other sites include SalmonScape, that shows the state’s salmon-recovery efforts, and GoHunt with the state’s hunting areas, and a Marine Bird Density Atlas. In addition to online map viewing and querying, the sites provide a means to request digital data products and provide guidance on how to interpret the digital data.