First Annual Meeting Proceeding

May 11-14, 1998

The First Annual Meeting of The NatureMapping Program, sponsored by the University of Washington, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries took place in Silverdale, Washington from May 11-14, 1998. The goal of the meeting was to provide all the participants with the tools and understanding to begin the Program in their own state or country. To attain this goal, the meeting was designed to be interactive with adequate time and opportunity for all participants to be involved.

The number of participants fluctuated over the four days, between 29 and 55 because of the various presenters and the short visits by the Orchard Prairie school. While most of the participants were from Washington State, four were from British Columbia, one from Norway, and other states represented were California, Idaho, Iowa, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Overview of the Program

Schools, Communities and Local Government Involvement

The past, present and future directions of the Program were the focus Speakers included teachers Tom Leigh, Bainbridge Island's Woodward Middle School, and Jennifer Feucht and Ed McCarthy, Orchard Prairie School in Spokane. They explained their efforts and rewards of incorporating the Program into their curriculum. Bainbridge Island teachers were the beta teachers for the Program. Woodward Middle School teachers team teach the Program culminating in a week-long effort to take 300 students out into the field.

Nine Orchard Prairie School students, representing one of the smallest school districts in the State attended the meeting. These students ranged from second to seventh grade and most had been involved in NatureMapping for two years. Both schools

Connie Waddington, Bainbridge Island Land Trust and Steve Morse, City of Bainbridge Island, explained how the community and the city has incorporated The NatureMapping Program into their long-term planning efforts for the Island. Students are involved in monitoring sites for the City along a newly purchase wildlife corridor. Bainbridge Island Land Trust assists in finding volunteers for student field trips and to coordinate the teachers and buses.

The Orchard Prairie Students performed a biodiversity skit they have been presenting to other schools and conservation groups in the Spokane area. The students visited Woodward Middle School to compare NatureMapping notes, then went on to Woodland Park Zoo the following day, where they were able to video-conference with other students at their school and visited the kiosk on the zoo grounds that highlighted the school and The NatureMapping Program. They returned to the meeting on Wednesday to participate in the field trip.

Gussie Litwer and Ralph Body, retired University of Washington professionals, and Dan Hannafious, explained their roles as volunteers for the Program. For the past three years, Gussie and Ralph have been responsible for data entry of the submitted wildlife observations and the creation of the GIS maps provided to NatureMapping participants. Dan has become the facilitator for the beginning workshops.

Tanya Pearcy, REI commercial sales representative, provided catalogs and an update of the products REI is making available at a reduced rate for NatureMapping participants.

Lisa Sausville, WildlifeMapping Coordinator, from Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries explained how WildlifeMapping is a part of the NatureMapping Program, but using a different name. WildlifeMapping has been in existence for 20 months and have just conducted their first facilitator workshop. They have developed a Resource Guide Program that recruits and trains people to act as resources for the teachers in their area. Their website is on-line and have introduced "Ask the Expert" where a biologist within their agency will answer email questions that pertain to the species highlighted by the agency that month. Virginia has produced a video of their Program. Their video, Washington State's video and a video created by the first school on the east coast to conduct WildlifeMapping were shown to the audience.

Patrick Crist, National Coordinator for the National Gap Analysis Program, gave an overview and status of national Gap and demonstrated a software program developed by himself and Tom Kohley, Wyoming Gap Analysis. The Biological Decision Support System is an easy to operate desktop tool for determining potential conflicts between development proposals and wildlife habitats, and suggested mitigation measures.

A two-hour session on aquatic issues was squeezed into the agenda beginning with The NatureMapping Program's Water Module. Funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Washington Departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife, it's focus is to educate the public on water and how to monitor water quality, macroinvertebrates, introduced aquatic plants and animals consistently to complement the terrestrial biodiversity data. The entire module is on-line and is a 236 page document, when printed.

Laurie Usher, Environmental Education Coordinator for the Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team explained volunteer monitoring programs within Washington State. Laurie was responsible for involving the teachers on Bainbridge Island and a driving force for community involvement in their watershed analysis.

Tom Muir, U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division ecologist updated the audience on the status of Aquatic Gap Analysis and presented initial results of the New York and Missouri's pilot projects.

Kelly Arbuckle, a graduate student at Iowa State University, attended a NatureMapping workshop earlier in the year with her advisor, Dr. Jim Pease. While Jim is searching for funding to begin NatureMapping in Iowa (and at this writing, has obtained funding), Kelly's emphasis is to involve students and the public in freshwater mussel studies for her graduate work. Kelly's efforts will help in the evolution of the Water Module.

Researcher Olaug Vetti Kvam, explained how 700 schools throughout Norway have adopted a stream or lake and collect water quality and macroinvertebrate data using protocols developed by researchers. In this national program, data are submitted for editing and review then made available through their website for students to use for their analyses and projects. Some analyses are presented on their web site (with a section written in English) for anyone to view. Olaug's goal at the meeting was to gather information on collecting terrestrial vertebrate and habitat data to incorporate into their existing programs.


The second day of the meeting was devoted to training the participants to use topographic maps to find township/range and sections, as well as, latitude and longitude coordinates.

Satellite image maps were provided for each participant to conduct manual GIS, and a team would outline habitats and label them on a mylar overlay. Most of the work was focused on the areas around the hotel and the lower Hood Canal where the group would be conducting field work the following day.

Participants were divided into teams and assigned specific projects based on real situations occurring in and around the Theler Wetlands. Teams were briefed on specific issues and provided with satellite imagery, historic data, and other materials to help them formulate their questions and subsequent data to collect. The projects were:

Field Trip

The field trip began at the Community Resource Center in Belfair at the Theler Wetlands. Neil Werner, facilitator for the Interpretive and Education Center described how the Center has become a teaching facility for the region's students and community education center.

Mason High School teacher Karen Lippy's students provided demonstrations of their studies to the group at their field sites and were tour guides for the Orchard Prairie students. Participants were updated and allowed to ask questions pertaining to their specific projects, given a tour of areas that dealt with their project, and then the teams were given time to survey and collect their wildlife data. Data were merged and entered into the Center's computer by the participants. The day ended with a BBQ including fresh caught oysters and clams at Tawonah State Park on the Hood Canal.


The last day of the meeting was focused on technology. A review of what a database is and what are relational databases was given. Teams participated by each being a database and provided the correct information as data were being read by the "computer".

Barb MacFadden, University of Washington Instructional Technology Developer, was in charge of developing The NatureMapping Program's website. She explained various techniques and issues the participants should be aware of before they begin designing a website. Her department will contract with NatureMapping states to modify Washington's site for a cost much lower than it would be to create a new site from scratch.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, meeting participant and K-12 Director for ESRI, Inc. demonstrated the power of ARCVIEW. Charlie used coverages of the Theler Wetlands along with GPS (Global Positioning Systems) points and digital photographs taken the day before. He greeted the audience with a slide show of the Theler Wetland trip and provided a great deal of materials for the participants.

The research projects and an overall discussion of the Program took place before the meeting adjourned.


Overall Discussion

Research Projects

  • Presence/absence, habitat use by wildlife, and seasonal uses with a focus on the recent cougar sightings in the area. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist discussed the where the observations occurred and cougar behavior. Cougars are in Hood Canal, but have not been seen near the wetlands. Whether it is habitat destruction or availability of prey, dominant males will increase their territories, driving out other males. Due to in the increased human population, sightings are occurring more. Habitat modification is making it difficult for deer to move through the city of Belfair, where the wetlands are. If the new bypass road is built, there may be more difficulty. It is not known if the changes in deer movement will bring more cougars into the city area.
  • Disturbance and habitat modification with the emphasis on a large piece of forest that will be cleared above the wetlands. This was discussion was included with the issue of the bypass road, since it would be in the same area.
  • Increased development and disturbance around the wetland. The main highway connecting most of the Hood Canal region runs past the wetlands. More development is occurring around the wetlands with a focus of a proposed new bypass road on the ridge above the wetlands. The land owner is willing to allow the county to develop the road if given the rights to develop the land as the owner pleases. Recommendations were (1) to obtain an artist's rendition of what the site will look in the future, (2) ask residents if adding signal lights on the highway to reduce the number of accidents be worth preventing the destruction of upland habitat over the wetlands and city? (3) change the public relations language which focuses on less accidents rather than potential damage to fish and wildlife habitat, (4) get a answer on the type of development that will occur, before it happens.
  • Restoration projects are occurring along the streams to enhance fish runs and to create buffer zones between development and the wetlands and estuary with a focus on prioritizing the ones that offer the best long-term results. A business next to the wetlands is allowing blackberry bushes to extend into the wetlands. A discussion ensued about incentives for the neighbor to become a better land steward and what would the public gain versus the land owner.
  • Create a biodiversity report card for the Theler Wetlands. What are the subjects by which to assess their biodiversity? The team would need historical and current data to model for the future. Data would include, habitat, wildlife, the ratio of native to exotic species, functional and structural groups, rarity, resilience of the habitat, exotic and human threats. They would need to develop ways to measure quality of habitat, patch size, buffers and lateral and vertical structure. Legal issues, tax base and costs would also be needed to create a biodiversity report card. The issue of scale is important; whether the report card is for Theler Wetlands only or the entire Hood Canal watershed.

    Next Year's Meeting

    Although the date hasn't been confirmed, Silverdale on the Bay Hotel will again be the site for the Second Annual meeting.

    The Theler Wetlands will be the site for the field trip, with an update of this year's issues provided to the group, along with new issues, especially regarding their salmon runs. The Wetland Center's classroom computers should have ARCVIEW loaded onto their machines. Participants will not only enter their wildlife data, but will have the opportunity to use the computers to create their own ARCVIEW coverages. Of course, there will be another BBQ at Tawanoh State Park.

    The hardest part of planning this first meeting was not knowing how many people we could handle. The attendance size this year was perfect. For the next couple of years, the number of participants will be limited so we can assure all attendees can learn about the Program. We do expect presentations from participating states on the status of their programs in the future. The meetings may be lengthened to five days to reduce the late night sessions and to allow participants more time to network.

    The days were long, but the evaluations acknowledged we met our goal by providing everyone with enough materials, information and enthusiasm to begin The NatureMapping Program in their own community, state or country.

    Suggestions for the 1999 meeting: