For more information on the Priority Habitats and Species program, please contact the WDFW Habitat Program.
Phone: 360-902-2534

PHS on the Web
PHS on the Web is a web-based, interactive map for citizens, landowners, governments, developers, conservation groups, and interested parties to find basic information about known locations of Priority Habitats and Species (PHS) in Washington State. PHS is a source of best available science that can inform local planning, development projects, conservation strategies, incentive programs, and numerous other land use applications. Learn more >>

The Priority Habitats and Species (PHS) Program fulfills one of WDFW’s most fundamental responsibilities--providing relevant information on important fish, wildlife, and habitat resources in Washington. Initiated in 1989, the PHS Program was identified as the agency's highest priority. Today, the PHS Program serves as the backbone of WDFW's proactive approach for conserving fish and wildlife.

PHS is the principal means by which WDFW provides important fish, wildlife, and habitat information to local governments, state and federal agencies, private landowners and consultants, and tribal biologists for land use planning purposes. PHS is the agency's primary means of transferring fish and wildlife information from our resource experts to those who can protect habitat. PHS information is used:

  • By WDFW to screen approximately 12,000 Forest Practice Applications, 2,000 Hydraulic Project Applications, and  1,500 SEPA reviews annually;
  • By cities and counties when updating land use plans and implementing development regulations in keeping with the Growth Management Act;
  • By owners of state, federal, and private lands as they develop Habitat Conservation Plans;
  • By state, federal, and tribal governments for landscape-level planning and ecosystem management;
  • By state, federal, and private entities involved with statewide oil spill prevention planning and response.

PHS provides the information necessary to incorporate the needs of fish and wildlife in land use planning. The PHS program addresses four central questions:

  • Which species and habitat types are priorities for management and conservation?
  • Where are these habitats and species located?
  • What should be done to protect these resources when land use decisions are made?
  • How effective are current efforts in conserving these resources?

To answer these essential questions, the PHS Program:

  • Identifies habitats and species determined to be priorities based on defensible criteria
  • Produces maps that provide our agency’s best understanding of the locations of Priority Habitats and Species
  • Produces maps that show where and when land use change occurs (change as small as 1/20th acre) and the cause of each change
  • Provides science-based management recommendations for maintaining viable populations of Priority Species
  • Provides science-based management recommendations for maintaining functioning Priority Habitats
  • Provides consultation and guidance on land use issues affecting Priority Habitats and Priority Species
  • Provides feedback to land managers about the amount of change in Priority Habitats and effectiveness of land conservation efforts
  • Distributes this information and makes it easily accessible

PHS customer service staff produce, make available, and distribute: