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Expert Forum for Wildlife and Open Spaces

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study Forest-near-Hoffman-Tank

  • Flagstaff scientists advocating for preservation
  • Commenting goals, policies and strategies in the revised Regional Plan
  • Contributing to an on-line Resource Inventory for the Flagstaff Area
  • Creating a map for a Conservation Lands System for the Flagstaff area and advocating for its implementation
  • Funding a map of vegetation, wildlife corridors and habitat hotspots
  • Supported purchase of Hoffman Tank with Open Space bond money
  • Commenting on the Regional Transportation Plan

The mission of Habitat Harmony’s Expert Forum for Wildlife and Open Space (formerly known as the Study Group for Wildlife and Open Spaces) is to contribute scientific expertise to the planning process for preservation of wildlife and open spaces in the greater Flagstaff area. 

We have organized a network of scientists to contribute their expertise to the city and county planning processes when it involves wildlife, wildlife linkages and open spaces.  In addition to individual scientists, Arizona Game & Fish and Coconino County Parks and Recreation are part of the Expert Forum.

Habitat Harmony, Inc. has been involved with wildlife and open space issues in the larger Flagstaff area for ten years.  We coordinated scientific input for Urban Open Spaces Plan which is part of the Regional Plan passed by voters in 2002. One of the ways members of the Expert Forum have participated in the revision of the Regional Plan is by reminding city staff of the work that was done for wildlife and open spaces in the creation of the Urban Open Spaces Plan in 2000.  The maps and natural resource inventories are now a part of the revision process for the Regional Plan.  A statement of the affirmation in principle of the preservation of wildlife and open spaces was drafted by the Expert Forum and submitted to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee to be included in the vision of the Regional Plan.  Members also participate in Open Houses, Focus Groups and Town Halls.

Sixteen members of the Expert Forum submitted comments as a group on the Environment and Conservation Element of the Regional Plan in October.  These knowledgeable comments were appreciated by the Regional Plan core planning team as well as by members of the Citizens Advisory Committee.  The Expert Forum will comment on the Open Space and Recreation Element before the end of 2010 and on the Land Use Element in 2011.

Partnering with Bread for the Journey, Inc., the Expert Forum created the Resource Inventory for the Flagstaff Area, RIFA, which also received a donation from Habitat Harmony, Inc.  The RIFA is hosted by NAU’s Geospatial Research and Information Laboratory, GRAIL, and hopes to be on-line by the end of 2010.  Expert Forum scientists are contributing information about our Flagstaff area ecosystem which will be available to the public as well as planners.

The Expert Forum is working to create a map which will be the underpinnings of a Conservation Lands System, CLS, for the Flagstaff area.  Nate Renn, GIS graduate student at NAU and member of the Habitat Harmony board of directors, is putting the map together.  Pima County has a CLS, and AZ Game & Fish has recommended that a CLS be included in all regional planning.  The goal of a CLS is to preserve the most valuable natural areas as development takes place.  The map does not include policies.  The Expert Forum will advocate for policies when appropriate.

Dr. Larry Stevens, member of the Expert Forum, is working with city and county staff and experts in various scientific areas to create GIS information and a map of vegetation, wildlife corridors and habitat hotspots in the Flagstaff area.   This information will be given to the Consultant for the revision of the Land Development Code, city and county staff, and the Citizen’s Advisory Committee revising the Flagstaff Regional Code.  This is part of Habitat Harmony’s goal of making information for preservation available at the time development happens.

Habitat Harmony Sponsors the First Assessment of Flagstaff Habitats pdf icon w-background

December 4, 2009 Flagstaff Vegetation Map Final Draft Report pdf icon w-background

Flagstaff Vegetation Map tiff icon w-background (TIFF Format, 2MB)

Flagstaff Vegetation Map Data Compilation Excel icon w-background (Excel Format, Read-Only)

With letters and speeches, the members of the Expert Forum publically supported the purchase of Hoffman Tank recommended by the Open Spaces Commission.  The scientists were able to show how Hoffman Tank is a part of wildlife corridors that needed to be preserved. The City Council voted to purchase the property.

Habitat Harmony submitted comments on the draft Regional Transportation Plan which will be passed by the Flagstaff Metropolitan Planning Organization before the end of 2009.  Important issues addressed included:

  1. requiring that the Transportation Plan be subject to the new Regional Plan which will not be in effect until 2012
  2. objection to bypasses which would have a negative impact on wildlife corridors and wetlands
  3. support for a Conservation Lands System, Best Management Practices, and the need for a city staff biologist.

One way to articulate the goals of the Expert Forum for Wildlife and Open Spaces is to say that we want the voice for preservation of wildlife, habitat, corridors and open spaces to be heard loud and clear!  We would be glad to talk with anyone who is interested, and, of course, we have a sign-up sheet if you go to our Contact Us page.

A Message to Humans

"I used to be a city fellow.  I grew up with the city noises of cars and trains and machines and humans.  My family lived close to downtown Flagstaff not far from the railroad tracks along Route 66.  What a busy, frightening place it was."
Read My Letter to You

Prairie Dog Life

Click on the burrow images to find out more.

Nursing Chamber

A mother keeps her young pups safe while the other Prairie Dogs investigate the snake.

Entering the Burrow

A prairie dog hears an emergency cry of "snake" and goes to investigate.

Listening chamber

A prairie dog sits listening just beneath the surface of the ground.

The Rattlesnake

The rattlesnake found a prairie dog burrow to sleep in but has been discovered by the prairie dogs.

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