New online mapping tool may benefit Utah wildlife

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Source: CVDaily Feed
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SALT LAKE CITY – A new online mapping tool may help Utah’s wildlife.

The state is among 16 in the West using the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT). Carmen Bailey, a policy analyst at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said it allows users to visually explore wildlife distribution information, crucial habitat areas and information about sensitive species. She said CHAT, which works in a similar way to Google Maps, should help developers avoid sensitive wildlife habitat.

“This gives them a quick peek right now, without really committing a lot of their resources to a planning effort,” she said. “It really is better for wildlife and it’s better for business, because it gives them some certainty up front.”

Several states pooled their resources to develop CHAT, which is being operated through the Western Governors Association. Nevada and a handful of other states have their own specific CHAT websites. Bailey said the mapping information is all the same, whether on a state website or through the governors association.

She said CHAT also shows that state governments are moving forward with technology.

“It’s taken a while for governments to get there and get the data to the constituents, to the public – to the policymakers themselves,” she said.

The technology also will help hunters see water holes and other useful information about what they might encounter on the ground.

The website is at westgovchat.org.