Web Search Tool Helps Locate Endangered Species
California condor with chick. Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
An Internet search tool — NatureServe Explorer — can help builders and developers get a jump start on planning and complying with Endangered Species Act requirements by giving them access to information on protected animals and plants in local areas.
Addressing habitat protection and conservation measures early on is crucial to minimizing regulatory delays or costs, and the online explorer is an easy way to see whether a new project has the potential to affect an endangered or threatened species.
A non-profit conservation organization with a network of natural heritage programs, NatureServe provides scientific information and tools that can help guide effective conservation action and it is the nation’s leading source of expertise on rare and endangered species and threatened ecosystems.
The NatureServe Explorer Web site provides the general public with in-depth information on more than 65,000 plants, animals and ecosystems in the U.S. and Canada. Explorer details the life histories and habitat requirements of thousands of species, the threats they face and management strategies for their protection. Information searches on Explorer at the county, state or watershed level can be particularly helpful in providing area-specific information on federally protected species.
“This is an easy-to-use resource that will be helpful to builders and developers, especially given the increase we’ve seen in member demand for green building and development resources,” said Christopher Galik, an NAHB environmental policy analyst who tracks endangered species issues for association members.
Recent discussions between NatureServe and NAHB have highlighted how association members can benefit by using the extensive biological database offered through Explorer.
“The data provided on NatureServe Explorer reflects our best scientific knowledge as well as detailed habitat inventories carried out by the scientists in state natural heritage programs,” said Bruce Stein, Ph.D., NatureServe’s vice president for programs. “We work hard to keep it as up-to-date and accurate as possible.”
While NAHB members can gain valuable information from NatureServe Explorer, there is no substitute for good communication between regulators and the regulated, and builders are still advised to discuss their projects with appropriate agency staff, consultants and legal experts.
For detailed information on how to use NatureServe Explorer, click here.
For more information, e-mail Christopher Galik at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8663.