An Update on Montana's Crucial Areas Assessment and Planning System

AN UPDATE ON MONTANA'S CRUCIAL AREAS ASSESSMENT AND PLANNING SYSTEM

Montana's Crucial Areas Assessment and Planning System (CAPS) is a mapping service created by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (http://fwp.mt.gov/) aimed at future planning for a variety of development and conservation purposes so fish, wildlife, and recreational resources can be considered earlier in land management planning and decision making. CAPS won a special achievement award from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. CAPS was created by many people in Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, including StreamNet's Montana Project Leader. Fisheries data available from CAPS were generated from the Montana Fisheries Information System (MFISH; http://fwp.mt.gov/fishing/mFish), Montana's StreamNet component. CAPS can be found at http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/conservationInAction/crucialAreas.html.

Since its creation, CAPS has already:

-- Created digital GIS-layer maps depicting important species and habitat information.
-- Assessed risks to fish, wildlife, and their habitats.
-- Created management guidelines and examples for residential development, energy development, and transportation projects.
-- 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 Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff understand that it's important to have easy access to practical tools and information early in the planning process. CAPS helps make this easier.