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State and Federal Mapping Partnership Conserves California’s Natural Diversity
  • July 18, 2019
CNDDB has a partnership with U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office. Both programs have developed their own databases, which have been utilized in environmental planning and review to help with conservation of natural resources.

Tony McKinney is the Branch Chief for the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Information Technology divisions at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (CFWO). His GIS Team, which includes Emilie Luciani and Ed Turner, maintains a link opens in new windowcontinually-updated geospatial database of federally threatened and endangered species occurrences within the Carlsbad office’s area of responsibility – which encompasses 12.9 million acres, 28 Congressional districts, and 29 federally recognized tribes across southern California.

Rapid development occurring in southern California in the mid-1990s spurred federal, state, and local stakeholders to initiate planning programs to help conserve threatened and endangered species. These planning tools included federal Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP), and the state’s Natural Communities Conservation Program (NCCP). As the HCP/NCCP processes began, CFWO staff realized that tracking biogeographical observations of at-risk species would be essential to the planning process.

To keep up with the ESA Section 10A(1)a survey reports that poured in, the CFWO initiated an in-house mapping program modeled after CNDDB, except observations are kept as individual records rather than combined into spatio-temporal summaries. The CFWO species observations database currently contains over 26,000 records, and is regularly shared with CNDDB, as well as numerous consultants, agencies, and other stakeholders. The CFWO database is used in conjunction with CNDDB to inform the HCP/NCCP planning process, which is on track to conserve areas of important biological diversity across 12,500 square miles in southern California over the next 50 to 75 years. Together, the federal and state databases are also used to help determine if native species warrant federal Endangered Species Act protection, and to delineate critical habitat for listed species.

The GIS Team at the CFWO has nearly 100 years cumulative GIS experience, with nearly 75 of those years at the Carlsbad Office. They come from diverse backgrounds, and have worked on numerous conservation projects, including greater sage grouse listing, the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program, San Bernardino kangaroo rat critical habitat, Laysan albatross on Midway Atoll assessment, coastal California gnatcatcher critical habitat, and the Western Riverside Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. CNDDB is indebted to Tony and his team for their continuing contributions to CNDDB. We look forward to growing interagency partnerships for the advancement of conservation throughout the state!

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