The Nevada Division of Natural Heritage systematically collects information on Nevada's at-risk biological features--plants, animals, and ecological communities according to Natural Heritage Methodology. 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information from diverse sources such as field surveys, museum collections, resource management agencies, published and unpublished reports, and knowledgeable individuals.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 ecological communities. This comprehensive inventory is maintained in a system of GIS databases, online reports, and paper files, and is continually updated, refined, and subjected to quality controls. The information becomes more complete each year, and also continues to change to reflect current conditions on the landscape.
Why the Nevada Division of Natural Heritage? Nevada's vast and diverse landscape is home to thousands of different kinds of life, 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 natural heritage. With early planning and responsible development, economic growth and our biological resources can coexist. The Nevada Division of Natural Heritage 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 Division serves as an "early warning system" for species that might become endangered in the future and that could require costly and burdensome management in the absence of wise land-use decisions.
How can we help? The Division provides information to the public on the locations, biology, and conservation status of at-risk plant and animal species and ecological communities in a variety of formats for areas ranging from local parcels to the entire state. A modest fee is charged to cover the cost of gathering, maintaining, and formatting the information. 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 Division of Natural Heritage, 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 and unexpected delays and expenses can therefore be reduced.
Similar natural heritage programs operate throughout the U.S. and Canada and in many Latin American countries.
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