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  • Writer's pictureJohn Mankowski

Making Stakeholders Aware of the Importance of Regional Habitat Connectivity in the Chehalis Basin

Last month, Brian Stewart presented our collaborative landscape science to the Chehalis Basin Strategy Scientific Review Team. Brian is a Wildlife Biologist contracted with Conservation Northwest, and also playing a collaborative role on the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group. Together with the CCLC and a host of partners, we’ve developed initial models of habitat connectivity across western Washington. These connectivity maps were presented to the Aquatic Species Restoration Program’s (ASRP) Scientific Review Team (SRT) working on the Chehalis Basin Strategy. These analyses were used in conjunction with previous thesis research on Interstate 5 (I-5) in the Chehalis Basin, to highlight areas on I-5 where linkages and high rates of wildlife-vehicle conflicts/collisions overlap, and to make recommendations on how to improve existing culvert, underpasses and viaducts for native wildlife.

The ASRP is a regional restoration plan aimed at restoring habitat and building resilience for salmonid and semi-aquatic species in the Chehalis Basin., Many of the initial project locations and riparian corridors set for restoration and fish passage removal spatially overlap with corridors identified in our wildlife habitat mapping outputs. The goal of the presentation was to show areas on state roadways and within ASRP project areas that need wildlife infrastructure or restoration efforts that could potentially benefit ASRP target species, as well as a robust suite of native species and ecological processes. Ultimately, the mapping products may help the planners and scientists working on the ASRP to identify projects that can benefit a wide range of conservation needs, while keeping overall costs down by combining projects and collaborating with a diverse set of stakeholders/beneficiaries. Lastly, Phase 1 of the ASRP has recently been released and will be accepting public comments until Jan. 14, 2020, offering the public a chance to weigh in on the proposed plans and offer ideas and insights.

The SRT will be providing feedback, ideas, comments, and concerns by Feb. 1, 2020, this feedback will be used by CNW to tailor partnerships, collaboration, projects, develop advocacy plans and presentations to better represent the ASRP’s overall goals and objectives, while advocating for efforts aimed at restoring habitat and building landscape and climate change resilience for all native flora and fauna in the Chehalis Basin.

Thanks to Brian for getting our connectivity models out to this forum. Also, thanks to Conservation Biology Institute for the GIS modeling, and the variety of partners from agencies, private timber and ag, and NGOs who have helped co-produce these important regional maps.

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