DEC Launches New York Nature Explorer
What animals, plants and significant habitats are found in your county, town, and neighborhood? What places in New York are home to the American dragonhead, the black-throated blue warbler, Virginia pine, or riverside ice meadows?
Anyone with an interest in the natural history of New York State can now find the answers to these questions with New York Nature Explorer – http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/57844.html – a new online tool launched by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). New York Nature Explorer is an interactive gateway to biodiversity information that can be utilized by residents, landowners, land managers, municipal officials, planners, consultants, students, and anyone else interested in researching the natural world.
DEC maintains many databases holding documented locations of plants, animals, and habitats, and, increasingly, much of this biodiversity information is being made available on the DEC public web site. Through New York Nature Explorer, users can learn about birds from the 2nd New York State Breeding Bird Atlas (2000-2005); reptiles and amphibians from the state Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project (1990-1999); and rare animals, rare plants, and significant natural communities from the databases of the New York Natural Heritage Program. While not all information on animals and plants are currently available, DEC plans to add more databases over time.
Users can look up information by choosing a county, town, watershed, a defined area, or a particular species. Then, Nature Explorer provides geographic information in both map and list form about the animals, plants, and significant natural communities such as wetlands, forests, grasslands, ponds, and streams. Other information can also be easily obtained, including links to fact sheets about a particular species, and whether it is considered rare, threatened, or endangered. For sensitive species, including animals that are state or federally listed as endangered or threatened, location information will show only the counties and watersheds where the plant or animal is found.
The information available on New York Nature Explorer can:
• Help provide a better understanding of the diversity of life in the state and local communities.
• Serve as a resource to better inform land use decisions, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and environmental assessment.
• Offer an initial indication of possible rare and protected animals and plants for those involved in the planning or permitting of a project or action.
New York Nature Explorer was developed in part with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NYS Biodiversity Research Institute, and contributions to Return a Gift to Wildlife (RAGTW). RAGTW is a law established to help provide additional funds to enhance DEC’s fish and wildlife programs. It’s a voluntary contribution line on the state income tax form to provide taxpayers with an easy, simple way to support fish and wildlife conservation.