Multi-species Baseline Initiative

Why a Multi-Species Baseline Initiative?

The world is changing fast and natural resource managers are facing a new age. Gone are the days when the wildlife manager's only job was tracking harvest rates and setting next years big game season. Today's wildlife manger is faced with issues our predecessors may never have imagined. Urban development, changes in the power grid, and climate change are just some of the issues that make a natural resource managers head spin.

Will a new subdivision leave enough room for songbirds to nest? How will a new wind turbine affect bat migration? What's a sustainable way we can maintain tree harvest while leaving a buffer zone for snails to adapt to climate change? Should fishers be listed as an endangered species or should we open a trapping season?


These are the types of questions that come across our desks at IDFG every day. Sometimes we know the answer, but all too often we just don't have the data we need to make an informed decision. It's not unusual for us to only have a vague idea about the status of the population in question and, in some cases, it's been decades since the species in question has even been documented to occur in Idaho.

How can we be expected to make the best decisions for species conservation and land management if we don't even know if the species is present on the landscape?

With the exception of game and some endangered species, there's not a lot of money available for inventory and monitoring of species. Correctly identifying specimens and cataloguing species occurrence data is highly specialized work. Protocols to conduct field surveys for different species tend to occur at different times of the year and are highly specialized as well.

The challenges to getting the data we need to make informed natural resource management decisions are intimidating, but not insurmountable. It would be easy to throw up our hands and say, 'it's too hard and it can't be done'.

EASY isn't what MBI is after. Instead of seeing obstacles, MBI seizes opportunity.


MBI is a forward looking group of partners that is dedicated to providing a comprehensive data set of occurrence data for a variety of wildlife species in the Idaho Panhandle and adjoining mountain ranges. We inventory a variety of taxa groups including amphibians, beetles, forest carnivores, slugs, and snails. Our main focus is inventory of 20 Species of Greatest Conservation Need listed in State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP): 

MBI is implementing State Wildlife Action Plan recommended conservation actions for 20 Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Wood Frog Rana sylvatica
CDA Salamander Plethodon idahoensis
Northern Leopard Frog Rana pipiens
Tiger Salamander Ambystoma tigrinum
Western Toad Anaxyrus boreas
GASTROPODS (slugs & snails)
An Oregonian Cryptomastix mullani blandi
Fir Pinwheel Radiodiscus abietum
Humped Coin Polygyrella polygyrella
Kingston Oregonian Cryptomastix sanburni
Lyre Mantleslug Udosarx lyrata
Magnum Mantleslug Magnipelta mycophaga
Pale Jumping Slug Hemphillia camelus
Sheathed Slug Zacoleus idahoensis
Thinlip Tightcoil Pristiloma idahoense
Blue-grey Taildropper Prophysaon coeruleum
Smoky Taildropper Prophysaon coeruleum
Fisher Martes pennanti
Lynx Lynx canadensis
Wolverine Gulo gulo


Because both Idaho and Washington have committed to including climate change in the next SWAP revision we are taking the innovative approach of co-locating climate monitoring stations with SGCN survey plots. This micro-climate data will provide a baseline of climatic regimes necessary for management of different suites of species.

North Idaho and northeastern Washington are working landscapes. They are not national parks or wilderness areas. They are places where people live, work, and play. Our goal is to provide standardized information for a suite of species so that we can continue to hike, hunt, log, plant, ride, ski, watch wildlife, and just enjoy the land we love. Our goal is to develop a data set that will help us use our land without abusing our land.

MBI’s strong partnerships and contributors have enabled a massive survey effort from 2010-11.  In each yellow and purple 5x5 km cell MBI co-located a climate monitoring station with a summer survey for beetles, gastropods, and forest carnivores. In each purple cell, MBI has established a winter forest carnivore monitoring bait station.



Partner Organizations Funding Organizations
British Columbia Ministry of the Environment Colville National Forest
Bureau of Land Management Idaho Panhandle National Forest
Coeur d'Alene Tribe   Laughing Dog Brewery
Colville National Forest Oregon Zoo Future for Wildlife Grants Program
Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness US Fish and Wildlife Service
Idaho Conservation League USFS Rocky Moutain Research Station
Idaho Department of Fish and Game Zoo Boise Conservation Fund
Idaho Panhandle National Forest  
Kalispel Tribe  
Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education  
Seepanee Ecological Consulting  
University of Idaho (amphibians & beetles)  
USFS Air Temperature Project  
USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station  
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife  
Vital Ground  



What's New

Panhandle Stream Amphibians

In the Idaho Panhandle there are two species of amphibian that specialize in breeding in streams instead of still waters like ponds and puddles.

Idaho giant salamanders (a Species of Greatest Conservation Need) and rocky mountain tailed frogs both have some special body adaptations to help their young survive in a more turbid environment.

Snow Peak WMA Remote Camera Pictures

The Snow Peak Wildlife Management Area is jointly managed by Idaho Fish and Game and the Panhandle National Forest.

In July 2013 I set up four remote camreas for a couple weeks hoping to get images of wolverine. While I wasn't able to get any pictures of this target SGCN study species, I did get some nice wildlife photos on three of the four cameras.

Camera One

Help Obtain Private Land Access for Wildlife Surveys

Here's something easy you can do that will make a big difference for wildlife conservation in north Idaho:  Help MBI obtain access to private lands in order to complete wildlife surveys in all of our grid cells.

You can help by putting us in touch with private landowners who may be willing to allow MBI crews to conduct a wildlife survey on their property. Scroll down below the maps to see what to expect if your property is selected for a survey.

Just follow these easy steps to help us locate landowners:

1) Take a look at the maps below.

Parker Creek and High Point Bait Stations

Rumored to have been a hide out for the Jesse James Gang and one of only two drainages in northern Idaho known to never have been logged; Parker Creek Canyon has an almost mystical reputation. Parker Creek wasn't a dependable refuge for outlaws or spared from the chainsaw for no reason though -- it's a steep, deep, cliff-lined drainage with no easy way in or out of its upper reaches. It turned out that one of our 5x5 km survey cells fell right across upper Parker Creek.

International Effort Detects Wolverine

Last January MBI partners Andrea Kortello (Seepanee Ecological Consulting-British Columbia Ministry of the Environment) and Lacy Robinson (Idaho Fish and Game) headed to the field with cameras loaned by Lydia Allen (Idaho Panhandle National Forest) to set up bait stations just a few miles north of the Idaho-British Columbia border. Andrea checked the staions about a month later to find the martens and flying squirrels we typically find at bait stations in our study area. Andrea went back again a few days ago to take the set down and got photos and nice hair samples from this wolverine.

Selkirk Stream Crossing

Last fall while I was out elk hunting I found a wildlife stream crossing in Idaho's Selkirk Mountains. It looked like it was occasionally used by wildlife so I set up a trail camera. Between the time I set the camera up on December 8 and when I took it down on March 24 there were 189 motions on the camera and a few nice wildlife shots.

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