UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
http://www.blm.gov/
December 13, 2011
 
In Reply Refer To:
1110 (170/200/300) P
EMS TRANSMISSION 12/21/2011
Instruction Memorandum No. 2012-039
Expires:  9/30/2013
 
To:                   All Field Officials
 
From:               Director
 
Subject:           Identification and Uniform Mapping of Wildlife Corridors and Crucial Habitat Pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding with the Western Governors’ Association
 
Program Areas: All programs in the Western States that consider wildlife habitat in relationship to any Bureau of Land Management (BLM) planning and land management activities.
 
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides guidance to all Field Officials to use state-and regional-level data and maps identifying wildlife corridors and crucial habitat, which are being developed by member states through the Western Governors’ Association pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The “Memorandum of Understanding regarding coordination among Federal agencies and States in Identification and Uniform Mapping of Wildlife Corridors and Crucial Habitat” was developed between the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Energy and the Western Governors’ Association.
 
The parties to the MOU agreed to establish State-based decision support systems to facilitate cooperation among State and Federal agencies in the identification and uniform mapping of wildlife corridors and crucial habitat. The regional-level decision support systems, now called the Western Wildlife Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT), are being developed to provide information about priority habitat areas consistently across political jurisdictions in a specific region. The intent of CHAT is to inform gross infrastructure planning efforts, wildlife corridor identification, and conservation planning on lands managed in the west.
 
Policy/Action: The Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Energy agreed to assist the member States, through the Western Governors’ Association, in the creation of State-based decision support systems that develop, coordinate, make consistent and integrate quality data about wildlife and crucial habitat across landscapes. A subsequent agreement, dated June 20, 2011, was developed to facilitate the implementation of the MOU. The agreement conveyed the following general direction: 

1.      Federal agencies will seek to use wildlife-related information and data developed through CHAT, whenever they are adequate and at an appropriate scale, as a principal source to inform land use, land planning, and related natural resource decisions.

2.      When information is not available through CHAT, but may be available from a State in other usable forms, the Federal agencies will explore the possibility of using such information.

3.      When information is neither available through CHAT or in another usable form, the Federal agencies will explore the possibility of the States developing such information in a manner that meets the needs of the Federal agencies in terms of timeliness, cost, and quality of information.

The regional-level data and maps developed through CHAT will be useful to inform large-scale planning that spans multiple states and/or jurisdictions, including energy and transportation projects.  Additionally, the BLM’s National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy and the Rapid Ecoregional Assessments are two ongoing efforts that are directed, as appropriate, to use CHAT to inform these efforts.
 
To use information developed through CHAT and to determine the availability of information by individual States, go to: http://www.westgov.org/wildlife. Click on the link to the Western Wildlife Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT).
 
Timeframe: This IM is effective immediately.
 
Budget Impact: The implementation of this IM will likely reduce costs to the BLM by creating efficiencies in the identification and mapping of wildlife corridors and crucial habitat because member States, through the Western Governors’ Association, will be developing this information for the BLM and other affected entities to use for planning and land management purposes. Thus, the BLM will not have to expend its own resources to develop this information when the State-developed information meets the BLM’s needs.
 
Background: On June 15, 2009, the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Energy and the Western Governors’ Association signed an MOU regarding coordination among Federal agencies and States in the identification and uniform mapping of wildlife corridors and crucial habitat. Without the MOU, State agencies that hold wildlife corridor and crucial habitat information would be subject to repeating and overlapping requests from various agencies to provide that information on a project-by-project basis. The MOU facilitates an organized and comprehensive approach to identify and map this information to support ongoing requests.
 
On June 20, 2011, an associated agreement was signed between the parties to the MOU to facilitate implementation of the MOU. Also, a cooperative agreement was created between the BLM and the Western Governors’ Association to provide financial resources to the Association’s Western Governors’ Wildlife Council for the purpose of coordination between the parties to create CHAT.  The MOU and associated agreement are attached for your information.
 
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: None.
 
Coordination:  This IM was coordinated with the National Operations Center (OC-570).
 
Contact:  Direct any questions or concerns to Dwight Fielder, Chief, Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at (202) 912-7230 or dfielder@blm.gov.
 
 
Signed by:                                                                   Authenticated by:
Mike Pool                                                                     Robert M. Williams
Deputy Director, Operations                                        Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
 
 
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