Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sharing Idaho's Natural Heritage

By Nathan Welch, GIS Analyst

So, you're backpacking in the Pioneer Mountains of south-central Idaho and you have a close encounter with a wolverine...

Wolverine photo-op, courtesy of the National Park Service

You immediately want to share this thrilling sighting with the world… but how? A post on Facebook might get lost among posts on the relatively mundane eating habits of your friends. Perhaps you’d like your observation to be useful, to make a difference. Where can amateur and professional naturalists alike go to report these rare observations?

In Idaho, go to the web site for the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Information System, or IFWIS: Here you can document your observation and provide lots of detail, including pinpointing the location on a map or providing GPS coordinates. The site also provides lists of rare plant and animal species, including species of greatest conservation need:

Castilleja christii (Christ's Indian paintbrush) - 
Photo courtesy of the US Forest Service /Teresa Prendusi

The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Information System is a small team within the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, responsible for compiling, managing, and sharing data about the state’s natural heritage. It is the primary source for detailed information about the distribution of rare plants and animals in Idaho. IFWIS does not receive direct funding from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. It depends on support from partnering agencies, businesses, and organizations.

The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Information System is one of 82 natural heritage programs in the Western Hemisphere. The Nature Conservancy started the first program in 1974 in the United States. Today, local fish and wildlife agencies and universities manage most of these programs.

The Nature Conservancy in Idaho uses the information about rare and threatened plants and animals to guide its conservation work in identifying critical habitat, protecting and managing lands for key species, and prioritizing areas where we focus our protection efforts.

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