Crucial Areas Planning System

Assessment and Planning System

I sat in the waiting room of a Dr.’s office and read an article in Montana Outdoors magazine about developing a windpower site but using these CAP guidelines to locate and develop the site…I was sure glad these CAP guidelines exsist…Here is a summary of the guidelines for you to read as this concientious wind developer did…It was sure great to see this after watching a month, or so, worth of incompetance as our Federal Government thrashed through the debt ceiling debate.
Explore CAPSWatch the tutorial
In 2008, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) took the lead in conducting a Crucial Areas Assessment. The Assessment evaluated the fish, wildlife and recreational resources of Montana in order to identify crucial areas and fish and wildlife corridors. The Assessment is part of a larger conservation effort that recognizes the importance of landscape scale management of species and habitats by fish and wildlife agencies.

The result, in part, is a Web-based Crucial Areas Planning System (CAPS), a new FWP mapping service aimed at future planning for a variety of development and conservation purposes so fish, wildlife, and recreational resources can be considered earlier.

The assessment has:

1.Created digital GIS-layer maps depicting important species and habitat information.
2.Assessed risks to fish, wildlife, and their habitats.
3.Created management guidelines and examples for residential development, energy development, and transportation projects.
4.Developed partnerships with government, industry, county planners and non-government organizations to develop implementation strategies and facilitate integration of CAPS into their planning processes.
Local, regional, and statewide decision makers, developers, and FWP staff understand that it’s important to have easy access to practical tools and information early in the planning process.

With this objective in mind, CAPS:

•Provides an easy-to-use and understandable way to help plan for development, conserve land, and protect the character and quality of life of Montana’s communities;
•Help developers know up front where to expect greater expense and potential mitigation costs and issues; and
•Help make smarter development choices and pass on to future generations the quality of life Montanans enjoy today.
CAPS is not a substitute for a site-specific evaluation of fish, wildlife, and recreational resources. There is still no substitute for consulting with local FWP biologists to gain a better understanding of conditions and management challenges in a particular area of the state—but CAPS will help you start smart.

Connectivity Mapping Project

The primary goal of the project is the development of wildlife connectivity GIS layer(s) for Montana. Currently the state of Montana does not have comprehensive representation of important wildlife connectivity areas. Connecting habitat patches, large areas of natural vegetation, and other landscape components will facilitate species movement for foraging, dispersing, breeding, migration, escape, and range shifts. Allowing for movement will maintain or increase diversity, ecosystem processes and genetic variation resulting in wildlife populations that are resilient to disturbance and climate change. Understanding the types and location of connectivity habitat in Montana will allow management agencies to better assess potential development impacts, and ensure the persistence of healthy wildlife populations.

Connectivity layers will be developed for selected focal species, with significant input from experts both within and outside of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The resulting layer(s) will be integrated into the Crucial Areas and Connectivity Assessment. In doing so, this project will support Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks mission and provide an update to the agency’s Comprehensive Fish and Wildlife Conservation Strategy (Montana’s State Wildlife Action Plan).


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