The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) was developed to bring greater certainty and predictability to planning efforts by establishing a common starting point for discussing the intersection of development and wildlife. The tool is managed by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA). CHAT is designed to reduce conflicts and surprises while ensuring wildlife values are better incorporated into land use planning, particularly for large-scale linear projects. It is a non-regulatory tool and not intended for project-level approval.
The History of CHAT
When the Western Governors adopted their Wildlife Corridors Initiative Report in 2008, they created the Western Governors' Wildlife Council and tasked its members with developing policies and tools to identify and conserve crucial wildlife habitat and corridors across the region.
The Wildlife Council first approached the Governors' directive by launching regional pilot projects in 2010 with support from a grant from the Department of Energy. The year-long pilot projects allowed the Wildlife Council to test the framework outlined in their White Paper, helping to refine their vision.
In August 2011, the Wildlife Council established a plan to develop a West-wide tool with the goal of launching a public and regionally compatible crucial habitat GIS tool by 2013. All the while, the Wildlife Council has continued to support the development of state-specific CHATs in individual states.
Western Governors launched CHAT in December 2013 as the Western Governors’ Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) and managed it through 2014. In April 2015, Western Governors transferred full responsibility for CHAT to WAFWA ,and the tool was renamed the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies CHAT.
For more information, please visit: http://www.wafwachat.org
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