The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) strives to manage its wildlife areas to protect and provide the habitat necessary to support healthy and diverse fish and wildlife populations, and provide compatible recreational opportunities. Effective management of fish and wildlife, and habitats upon which they depend, requires an adaptive approach. This includes the use of experimental designs and techniques, and integration of monitoring and evaluation. Monitoring and evaluation are critical in this process because they provide the information necessary to evaluate management activities in the past and to improve management activities in the future.
Monitoring and evaluation occurs at different levels of intensity. At the simplest level, assessments can be used to evaluate individual projects. This can be done by monitoring focal species or habitats with basic indicators or metrics. A more complex and integrated approach involves an ecological integrity assessment designed to evaluate ecological condition. Ecological condition represents the current state of a resource compared to reference standards or benchmarks for physical, chemical, and biological characteristics.
Ecological integrity assessments can be done at different scales. At the broadest scale, assessments can be done using remote sensing data and Geographical Information Systems. More detailed approaches can incorporate different intensities of field work ranging from ground truthing of remote maps to detailed transects designed to monitor specific characteristics of the habitat. Monitoring can also include citizen science which provides both an efficient and effective way to collect data.