State Reports - West Virginia
Efforts are proceeding in all areas of the project. The stewardship mapping, wildlife habitat model development, and wildlife habitat extent components of the project are essentially complete. Wildlife habitat mapping has been completed for a number of herptiles. Alliance mapping is also continuing. We continue to add cooperatorsboth nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and local and state agencies.
For assigning stewardship classes, we have used the dichotomous key from New Mexico GAP. A number of land managers and planners from federal and state agencies have assisted in this effort. We have also prepared a questionnaire to identify each agencys perceptions of their stewardship and management levels. These data have been provided to a number of agencies and NGOs as they represent the first digital accumulation of conservation or natural resource management areas data for West Virginia. Several agencies (in particular the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources) have provided tremendous assistance in this effort.
Wildlife habitat models have all been at least initially developed and continue to undergo review as we identify new cooperating biologists and field naturalists. As the models come from a variety of data sources, we are currently cross-walking the final models to our working list of alliances. The major field scientists that should be participating in the project have been identified and have been at least presented with the opportunity to participate in the development and refinement of the models.
Wildlife range extents have also been completed and are being revised as needed using a thorough outside review of our data. The initial EPA/TNC hexagon-based extent data have been greatly expanded upon and are now much more complete. We have also incorporated a more complete literature and expert source bibliography into our initial work. The TNC work omitted a number of key species, and we have incorporated additional species into the database. During the next quarter, we plan to work with adjacent states on edge-matching the hexagon data.
Distribution mapping continues for the herptiles. These models are based primarily on wetland and hydrologic features and general cover types and not the detailed alliance polygons. A herptile map atlas has been prepared and is out for review by a number of our key scientific cooperators. Other wildlife mapping efforts will proceed once detailed alliance-level mapping has been completed.
Vegetation alliance/cover mapping is proceeding using a methodology that we describe as spatial sorting. Based on ecological unit and not on TM scene, it relies on existing landscape knowledge in conjunction with videography sampling (using an approximation of the methodology developed by Massachusetts), existing plot data, FIA data (USDA Forest Service), and limited new plot sampling and data analysis. We are labeling spectral clusters (from ISODATA routines) using the above data sources. We have also registered our imagery with the various MRLC products that have been produced with the idea that the MRLC products are multistate and as such may present a suitable framework for state-to-state edge-matching. However, this strategy may not prove to be as fruitful as we anticipated.