Western governors unveil high-tech wildlife maps - WNEM TV 5

Western governors unveil high-tech wildlife maps

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LAS VEGAS (AP) -

Leaders from around the West met to strategize about wildfire management Thursday.

Governors from several states discussed ways to prevent and put out wildfires during the annual winter meeting of the Western Governors' Association on the Las Vegas Strip.

Established in 1984, the association includes governors from 19 Western states. Members share ideas, concerns and approaches to dealing with issues unique to the West.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell delivered a keynote address Thursday morning highlighting the federal government's commitment to collaborating on conservation and land management issues.

She told an audience of officials that climate change is real, and seen most clearly in the West.

"You see it here in the west around fires, around floods," she said.

Governors also are unveiling a high-tech wildlife habitat mapping project they hope will encourage economic development across the West while protecting the region's environmental treasures from Puget Sound to the Rocky Mountains.

Leaders of the Western Governors' Association tell The Associated Press they want to make it easier to chart paths across large landscapes where developers can expect the least regulatory resistance as they draft plans to build highways, dig mines or erect power lines.

Five years in the making, the database to be announced Thursday at the WGA's annual winter meeting in Las Vegas is called the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool, or CHAT.

It will connect 16 western states with a first-of-its-kind online system of GIS maps displaying wildlife habitat, wetlands and other valuable natural resources.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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