Washington NatureMapping Program

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NatureMapping Program - History

We have provided exerpts from our first newsletter, for a historical overview.

Washington NatureMapping Wildlife News APRIL, 1995

WDFW and Gap Outreach Equals NatureMapping

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in partnership with the Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Gap Analysis Project at the University of Washington, initiated a pilot project in September, 1993. Teachers were asked to collect "real" data for a statewide biological database. The pilot has grown from 23 teachers to over 200 in two years! The Oregon Biodiversity Project used this model to begin a similar program in 1995. This is our first newsletter, and albeit thick, is an attempt to bring you up-to-date on our progress in the Northwest.
We also have a new name, NatureMapping. We share this name with Oregon and expect this to become a national program.

Gap's NatureMapping Role

Karen Dvornich, the Project Assistant of the University of Washington, Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Gap Analysis Project, needed more wildlife and habitat information to complete a state biological survey. Karen turned to the public for help and worked with WDFW's Margaret Tudor to develop guidelines on how the information can be collected and reported for a "public layer" of information for the state survey. This state biological survey can in turn be used by the public to make local policy and planning decisions on how resources are managed.

WDFW's NatureMapping Role

Margaret Tudor, Project WILD Coordinator for Ecosystems Education at WDFW built the educational component of NatureMapping. She maintains that involving the public and students in what the agency does to manage natural resources is the most effective environmental education. Connecting valuable research contributions from students and the public to the needs of WDFW is a benchmark for effective resource agency environmental education.

National Recognition: 1995 RENEW America Award

We are now an AWARD WINNING PROGRAM! This January, the NatureMapping Program received national recognition. We were awarded the 1995 RENEW America Fifth Annual National Award for Environmental Sustainability in the "Wildlife and Habitat" category. Congratulations to all volunteer monitors for your data and support. The RENEW America Award will bring national attention to our program. Econet and GREEN Del Rio received awards in other categories. There were 23 award winners selected from 2,000 programs nationwide.

Background on Gap

As demands on the use of natural resources increase, proper land management and land use planning will be critical to ensure renewable resources and adequate habitat for fish and wildlife populations. Unfortunately, species and the habitats that support them are disappearing at an alarming rate. As a result, "biodiversity" has become a familiar term and an important issue.

Past efforts to preserve biodiversity were reactive and focused on rescuing species which teetered on the brink of extinction. A proactive approach is needed to identify and protect geographical areas (habitats) that are critical to individual species or groups of species before their existence is threatened. U.W.'s Gap Analysis Project and NatureMapping is an attempt to keep common animals common and to maintain our quality of life by indentifying areas of high biodiversity and assessinng the amount of protection in those areas.

NatureMapping's Future

NatureMapping provides many different opportunities for environmental education and hands-on field work. NatureMapping will continue to develop through three phases:
Species identification and data collection

Data analysis, statistics and graphics

Computers, remote sensing, GIS (Geographical Information Systems), local area networking and Internet

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