Putting CHiRP ‘encyclopedia’ to work 

Community groups, students, making use of interactive mapping program

As more layers continue to be added to the CHiRP (Community Habitat Resource Project) mapping feature, new possibilities for the technology are presenting themselves.

With a few clicks of a mouse, you can easily see the correlation between bird habitat and local wetlands, or the prevalence of different forest species at different altitudes around the valley.

You can click on fish icons to read about different Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group projects on various waterways, or the ‘H.I.T.’ icons to see the work that’s been completed by Whistler-Blackcomb’s Habitat Improvement Team.

You can also click on a growing number of Whistler Stories icons to read about areas of ecological, cultural or historical interest. The selection of stories and photographs already on the site includes big trees, waterfalls, bear encounters, First Nations pictographys and spawning Kokanees.

More layers are also being added in the coming months. Michael Allen is providing bear denning ecology information from the Whistler Black Bear Project; Wayne McCrory of the Whistler Bear Society is providing information on black bear travel corridors and possible bear/human conflict areas; Kerry Clark from the Whistler Museum and Archives is providing a list of cultural and historic sites; foresters John Hammons, Don MacLaurin and Peter Ackhurst are providing data on the fires, logging and bug infestations for the Whistler watershed going back to the arrival of the railroad in 1918; WORCA and the municipality will be providing information on local hiking and biking trails, with GPS information from the Whistler Bicycle Task Force.

In addition, a new movie tool is being added to the map that will be used to present decades of detailed glacier monitoring data that is being collected by the Whistler Naturalists, showing the impacts of climate change and other factors on the size and reach of glacier systems.

According to CHiRP co-ordinator Stéphane Perron, the more information that’s included on the map, the more useful the CHiRP project will become for the community.

"It’s a pretty powerful reference tool," he said. "I really think we can think of it as an encyclopedia of environmental information in Whistler, as well as a digital library and atlas. And it will slowly build, it’s one of those projects that will never be completed.

"It’s not a complete picture yet, but it’s a growing reference. We just obtained Michael Allen’s data today on bear denning and population, and there’s more stuff coming online all the time."

CHiRP is a partnership of the Whistler Museum and Archives Society, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Whistler Naturalists, WORCA, AWARE, Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, Whistler Bear Society, Cascade Environmental Research Group, Whistler Centre for Sustainability and Whistler-Blackcomb. All of these partners are contributing their collected environmental data to CHiRP, using the map as an interactive index to file, present and share that information with one another and the public.

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