Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation are one of the major challenges facing Washington’s fish and wildlife. Much of the loss of priority habitat is associated with residential development for the state’s increasing population. Reducing the rate at which we lose priority habitats is critical to protect Washington's biodiversity.
This measurement is based on several studies looking at the change in mapped oak woodland distribution from the early 2000s. A comprehensive understanding of the current rate of loss of priority habitats requires analysis of digital imagery which is technically feasible, but currently unfunded. It also requires a detailed understanding of the full extent of “priority habitats” and not just the locations WDFW currently has mapped.
- WDFW Regional Habitat Biologists advise local governments of ways they can maintain existing priority habitats as they update their Critical Areas Ordinances, Shoreline Management Plans, and Comprehensive Plans.
- WDFW Regional Habitat Biologists advise land owners of ways they can maintain existing priority habitats through their land management.
- WDFW is seeking funds to comprehensively monitor and report the rate of loss of priority habitats.
You can ask your county or city if their Critical Areas Ordinance specifically protects Priority Habitats and Species and what steps are being taken locally to minimize its loss. You can encourage your county or city to establish protections in line with WDFW’s "PHS Management Recommendations" when updating their Critical Areas Ordinance and Shoreline Management Plan or expanding an Urban Growth Area.