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WILDLIFE MAPPING, PLANNING TOOLS FOR WESTERN STATES ONLINE

October 6, 2011
Tools will aide development projects in lesser prairie chicken range
DENVER — The Western Governors' Association and its Wildlife Council have announced that three wildlife mapping tools designed to inform the pre-planning of large-scale energy, transportation, and land-use projects in sensitive wildlife habitat are now available online. One of these tools — the 5-State Southern Great Plains Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) — online at www.kars.ku.edu/maps/sgpchat — is particularly valuable for mapping such projects in lesser prairie chicken range of southwestern and westcentral Kansas.

“This is the first time we’ve had a tool that will work across state lines,” says Eric Johnson, Ecological Services Section chief for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. “The Southern Great Plains CHAT will give wind and transmission developers — as well as our agency and those in nearby states — a tool to help determine where their projects will affect lesser prairie chicken habitat.”

In addition to individual state systems coming online now and over the next two years, the Wildlife Council is working to construct more region-wide layers of crucial wildlife habitat information that is compatible across state lines. Those layers, as well as the state CHATs, will be the basis for a West-wide CHAT that the governors have asked the Wildlife Council to make available to the public in 2013.

Montana's wildlife system, for example, has been providing information to the public over the last year and has served as a model for other Western states in building their CHATs.

The Western Governor's Wildlife Council will meet in Seattle on Nov. 3-4 to review its progress and to examine how CHATs are being created and used across the region. Registration information and a preliminary agenda are now available at www.westgov.org/initiatives/wildlife.
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