The Nevada Natural Heritage Program systematically collects information on Nevada's at-risk biological features and noxious weeds. Staff biologists and data management specialists consolidate natural resource information from diverse sources such as field surveys, museum collections, resource management agencies, published and unpublished reports, and knowledgeable individuals. We research and record facts: the existence, locations, numbers, condition, biology, and habitats of species and biological communities. This comprehensive inventory is maintained in an easily accessible system of GIS databases, online reports, and paper files, and is continually updated, refined, and subjected to quality controls. Program information becomes more complete each year, and also continues changing to reflect current conditions on the landscape.
Why the Nevada Natural Heritage Program? Nevada's vast and diverse landscape has always been part of the state's history, people, and wealth. This land has provided assets such as minerals, forage, and fertile soil, as well as the invaluable resources of clean water and air, abundant wildlife, and open space. Thousands of different kinds of life call Nevada home, and hundreds of these live nowhere else in the world. Nevada's health and economic well-being depend directly upon wise stewardship of its land and all the life it supports. This challenge increases as population and land-use pressures grow. Nevada is among the top 10 states in the nation for both the diversity and the vulnerability of its living heritage. With early planning and responsible development, economic growth and our biological resources can exist side by side. The Nevada Natural Heritage Program is a central source for information critical to achieving this balance. We continually prioritize the management needs of the state's most imperiled biological features. The Program serves as a small, cost-effective "early warning system" for species that might become endangered in the future (or that could invade and displace native species), and that could require costly and burdensome management, unless wise land-use decisions are made now.
How can we help? The Program provides information to the public on the locations, biology, and conservation status of at-risk species and noxious weeds in a variety of formats (including GIS) for areas ranging from local parcels to the entire state. Fees are charged to cover the costs of gathering, maintaining, and formatting the information, and vary with the complexity of each request. Frequent users include private consultants, industry, public resource management agencies, conservation organizations, and biological professionals pursuing a variety of planning, development, conservation, and scientific research projects. By using the Nevada Natural Heritage Program, developers and other decision-makers become aware of the possible biological effects of a project during the planning stages, before financial commitments are made. Inadvertent environmental impacts, as well as unexpected delays and expenses, can thereby be reduced.
Similar programs operate in every U.S. state and territory, several Canadian provinces, and in many other countries.