The Priority Habitats and Species (PHS) Program fulfills one of the most fundamental responsibilities of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) -- to provide comprehensive 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 to the conservation of fish and wildlife.
|PHS on the Web is a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife web-based, interactive map for citizens, landowners, governments, developers, conservation groups, and interested parties to find basic information about the known location of Priority Habitats and Species (PHS) in Washington State. PHS is a source of best available science that can inform local planning activities, development projects, conservation strategies, incentive programs, and numerous other land use applications. Learn more >>
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:
- to screen 12,000 - 15,000 Forest Practice Applications, 10,000 - 18,000 Hydraulic Project Applications, and over 3,000 SEPA reviews annually;
- by a majority of cities and counties to meet the requirements of the Growth Management Act;
- for the development of Habitat Conservation Plans on state, federal, and private lands;
- by state, federal, and tribal governments for landscape-level planning and ecosystem management;
- for 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 three 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?
To answer these essential questions, the PHS Program:
- identifies habitats and species determined to be priorities based on defensible criteria;
- maps the known locations of priority habitats and species using GIS technology;
- provides information on the conditions required to maintain healthy populations of priority species
- and viable, functioning priority habitats using best available science;
- provides consultation and guidance on land use issues affecting priority habitats and species;
- distributes this information and makes it easily accessible.
PHS also furnishes products which enable the agency to provide competent and efficient customer service. In this regard, PHS staff annually produce and distribute:
- Over 4,000 copies of the Priority Habitats and Species List. The PHS List identifies and defines which species and habitats are priorities, and it outlines criteria used for choosing them.
- Over 3,500 copies of Management Recommendations for Washington's Priority Habitats and Species. These detailed documents identify the needs of fish and wildlife based on the best available science. Guidelines for their incorporation in management decisions are provided.
- Nearly 2,000 state-of-the-art Geographic Information System (GIS) maps which display locations and extent of priority species and habitats on 29 million acres in Washington State.