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Ecological Integrity on Wildlife Areas in Washington State

Category: Habitat - Research

Date Published: April 23, 2012

Number of Pages: 13

Author(s): Michael A. Schroeder, Margaret Tudor, and Matt Vander Haegen

Contact Information: 509-686-2692; michael.schroeder@dfw.wa.gov

INTRODUCTION:

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has a mission to serve Washington's citizens by protecting, restoring, and enhancing the ecological systems that support fish and wildlife populations. One approach the WDFW employs to achieve this mission is management of approximately one million acres of land distributed in wildlife areas across the state. To make informed and adaptive management decisions, credible data on how human activities affect the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of ecosystems needs to be collected, monitored, and evaluated. The purpose of this project is to provide the technical advice and support necessary to collect and interpret that data.

WDFW is undertaking a collaborative research effort to monitor or measure changes in biodiversity over time, beginning with a pilot project focusing on Ecological Integrity Monitoring on WDFW owned and managed lands. The Wildlife Program has developed a cross division/cross discipline project to advance effective management of fish, wildlife and their habitats by engaging Wildlife Outreach citizen science volunteers to report metrics designed by Wildlife Science for monitoring ecosystem integrity on wildlife areas. This citizen science project will focus on inventorying, monitoring, evaluating and disseminating information initially focusing on four key Wildlife Area locations in Eastern and Western Washington State. Registered and trained citizen science volunteers will use Wildlife Science protocols to provide photo point images and report data online to a WDFW corporate data base. Wildlife Science staff will analyze the data with Wildlife Lands staff and Wildlife Area Managers to inform management decisions on Wildlife Areas. This citizen science project operationalizes the principle of communication across WDFW divisions and programs required by the agency's Conservation Initiative. The project will work with a diverse public, implementing ecosystem-based volunteer opportunities and communicating natural resource priorities while striving for efficiency.