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CHiRP project taking shape online

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Map software demo up and running

After months of work behind the scenes, the Whistler Community Habitat Resources Project, better known as CHiRP, is now online with an active demonstration of how the habitat mapping component of the project will work.

The site is up and running at its regular Web address, www.chirpwhistler.info as of Monday, and many of the partners involved in the project are submitting data for map layers within weeks.

"So far we’re really impressed by it, it’s working out well," said Stephane Perron, the facilitator for the CHiRP project.

The CHiRP project was made possible with a $75,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Whistler, and thousands of hours of volunteer work by partner organizations in the community.

The goal is to create an interactive map for Whistler with different layers that show everything from the locations of bike trails to the locations of native flora and fauna. Once layers are complete, users will be able to select different layers and see how they relate to one another.

The personalized maps can be used to show trends and conflicts, research issues, encourage conservation, and plan for the future. It also has an educational element, teaching people about different habitats in Whistler and the species of plants and animals that can be found there.

There is also a local stories function that allows people to share their stories about different areas on the map. These stories can range from the cultural history of an area to sightings of a rare bird.

"The next stage is to actually add the layers, and we’re pretty far along with that as well," said Perron.

"The Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group has stream classification information that they could get to us in a matter of weeks, we’re getting the bird list from the Whistler Naturalists which we’ll be able to map.

"Whistler-Blackcomb told us they need 10 days to get permission to provide us with map information on the watershed. They also have done some mapping of the whitebark pine in the area, which is of interest because they are endangered.

"WORCA is working to get us information on bike trails. Jenny Jones Black Bear Foundation is providing us with a map of bear conflict areas," said Perron.

"Once all that data is in and the maps are online, we’ll be able to start seeing how things overlap. For example you could correlate bear conflict areas with the Valley Trail and mountain bike trails, and look at ways to resolve those conflicts. Who knows, maybe there is an easy way to minimize our impact on bears in the area, we just never saw it before because nobody has ever mapped it.

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