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Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group

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This science-based partnership is helping us understand wildlife movement patterns and the needs for connected and healthy habitats in the face of climate change.

wwhcwg-banner.jpgWildlife need to move from one habitat to another in search of mates, food, shelter, and new homes, particularly as conditions change, as is expected with climate change. But as the state of Washington becomes increasingly populated and developed, connections needed by wildlife are being broken.

The Western Governors Association started a Wildlife Corridors Initiative to identify key wildlife migration corridors and crucial wildlife habitats around the Western states.

Conservation Northwest in 2007 helped form the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group, an open public-private partnership developing the best available scientific analyses and tools to understand habitat connectivity in our state and neighboring habitats in British Columbia, Idaho, and Oregon. In 2010, the group released their statewide scale report identifying landscape-scale patterns pointing to habitat connectivity.

Working group participants represent land and natural resource management agencies, organizations, tribes, and universities. It is led by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington Department of Transportation.

Conservation Northwest is one of the core members of the working group.

Movement zones for our region's wolverines. WWHCWG
Movement zones for our region's wolverines. WWHCWG

Information about where the animals are, how they move, and what specific habitats they use helps us know best what areas need connecting for Northwest wildlife and what options exist for maintaining and restoring connections. To best secure animals and habitat, we need those science tools, from data, mapping, to modeling.

The habitat connectivity report confirmed much of the work we have done to date, including land protections in The Cascades Conservation Partnership and Loomis Forest Campaign.

The results also affirm the importance of our current work in the Columbia Highlands and British Columbia and the connections for wildlife there. It paints a picture of the work that remains to be done in Washington state to ensure wildlife have the ability to move.

The working group built off of the initial report with a climate change analysis and the effects on habitat connectivity in 2011, as well as a finer scale analysis of the highly fragmented arid landscape of our state with considerations for energy development.

Conservation Northwest remains on the core team of this working group, producing new products and thinking ahead to where greater scientific attention can help inform connectivity conservation.

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