OLYMPIA – A new interactive mapping system that displays information about key fish and wildlife species throughout the state is now available on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/phs/.
The free mapping tool, called “PHS on the Web,” allows users to zoom in on specific properties or scan broad geographical areas to determine the presence of fish and wildlife species identified as priorities for conservation and management.
The same mapping feature also identifies critical fish and wildlife habitat types, ranging from coastal wetlands to eastside shrub-steppe.
This information is often required by local, state and federal agencies in reviewing land-use permits, grant proposals and landowner incentive programs, said Katie Knight, WDFW land use policy lead.
For a fee, WDFW fills hundreds of individual information requests each year from property developers, environmental organizations, local governments and others seeking to determine the status of fish and wildlife species in specific areas.
Now, much of that information is available on WDFW’s website for free.
“The new PHS website makes it easy for people to find the information they need on their own,” Knight said. “We want people to know if there’s an eagle’s nest on a property or wild salmon running up a local stream, especially when it comes to land use decisions.”
The new website was developed by WDFW’s Priority Habitats and Species program, which monitors approximately 200 fish and wildlife species ranging from Pacific herring to Roosevelt elk. The program affords special protection for these species based on their population status, sensitivity to habitat alteration, or recreational, commercial or tribal importance.
The new website displays geographical and biological data about all of those species, along with the location of 20 types of habitat WDFW deems critical to their survival.
Tim Young, WDFW geographic information system manager, said the website incorporates base maps and imagery developed by other state agencies and businesses to contain costs and facilitate the exchange of data.
“We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel in developing this website,” Young said. “Our goal was to provide the public easier access to this information.”
PHS on the Web is the latest in several interactive mapping systems now available on the WDFW website. One, called SalmonScape, displays information about the state’s salmon-recovery efforts. Another, GoHunt, outlines state hunting areas.