idfg-jstrickland's blog

Observations: Finding and Reviewing

To “View & Export Observations” that have been submitted and entered into the IDFG-IFWIS database, for Animals you can go to, while for Plants you go to  From this page you can begin filtering and querying the data to fit your need.  Filters currently included are by: Common Name, Scientific Name, Category [of species type], and Region.  An updated form will also include filters for Observer and Reporting Organization.  If you require a specific filter, that you believe will be useful by many, please let us know.

These filters should be fairly intuitive, but a helpful note is to remember to “Reset” the filter when you want to change your search criteria, otherwise, the filter will continue to narrow down on the search criteria that are already entered.  You may also increase the number of observations returned per page by changing the Items/page filter.

Definitions of Terms used by IDNHP and IFWIS

Links to downloadable files have been added to the IFWIS website.  A workbook of acronyms, agency codes, and definitions was added to the Species Diversity page.  A text document was added to the Obtain Information page, explaining the terms used in the downloadable county lists of rare and sensitive species.


MS Access Query to determine if 1+ fields of a subset of fields is not null

I recently encountered an issue where I tried to determine which records for any of 7 out of 12 Forest Service National Forests contained data for a query.  Region 4 of the USFS has 12 NFs, of which 7 have boundaries within Idaho.  For a list of sensitive species occurring in the region, I wanted to determine which species occurred in 1 or more of the forests that occur in Idaho.  Currently, R4 indicates 231 sensitive species, but only 56 occur in forests within Idaho.

With my original query, I simply put `Is Not Null' in the `or:' row of the query design view, but this resulted in no records being returned.  It appeared that something needed to be in the `Criteria:' row of query design, but when I did this, then put `Is Not Null' in the `or' row going straight across for each field desired, only records meeting the `Criteria:' rule were returned.  Example of failed query shown below:

It ended up that the query rules needed to be "tiered" or staggered in the query design view, with each OR statement completely encapsulated with parenthesis, resulting in the following GOOD SQL query:


SELECT [Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].ID, [Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Type, [Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Species, [Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Common, [Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Boise_NF, [Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Caribou_NF, [Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Challis_NF, [Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Payette_NF, [Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Salmon_NF, [Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Sawtooth_NF, [Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Targhee_NF
FROM [Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011]
WHERE ((([Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Boise_NF) Is Not Null)) OR ((([Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Caribou_NF) Is Not Null)) OR ((([Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Challis_NF) Is Not Null)) OR ((([Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Payette_NF) Is Not Null)) OR ((([Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Salmon_NF) Is Not Null)) OR ((([Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Sawtooth_NF) Is Not Null)) OR ((([Tbl_USFS-R4--July_2011].Targhee_NF) Is Not Null));
Tiered Query to determine if any of a subset "is not null"


August 2012 Data Export -- What's New?

A PowerPoint presentation discussing "what's new" in the August 2012 data export is now available for download and viewing.  This presentation presents a summary overview of new plant and animal data in GIS. Download DataExport_Oct2012.pptx here.

Compression Files Used for Sending Out Data



To inform you of the use of the 7-Zip file archiver program – providing need and explanation.  This is not an endorsement – only an informative discussion.


In responding to data requests for Idaho’s Special Conservation Status Species, IFWIS staff compile selections of shapefiles, PDFs, and supporting documents.  These requests often result in a large collection of files and subsequently large file sizes for emailing the results to partners and customers.  The easiest and most traditional method to aide in sending large files has been to ZIP the folders/files.  However, sometimes this still does not result in a small enough file size for emailing or receipt.  Other compression types have also been used, such as BZIP, GZIP and TAR, among others.  Recently, when ZIP is not enough, I have been using a newer file compression format called 7‑Zip (7z) that has significantly outperformed all previous freeware compression types.  For example, a recent collection of uncompressed files totaling 168MB resulted in compressed file sizes of 95MB ZIP and 6MB 7z.  The 7‑Zip software for Windows is available in both 32 and 64‑bit installs at  Note that this is an .org web site and that each downloadable installer is 1MB for the current 9.20 version.  Caution – I have had two customers who have encountered issues while installing.  When I send customers 7z files, I also provide instructions to download and install the free 7‑Zip open source software.  One customer responded that they ended up with WinZip while the other downloaded MegaZipper.  In the multiple times that I have visited this site, I have never encountered these links – not to say that they’re not there, so please be aware.

If you have better information or another useful tool, please add a new comment to improve this Blog.

Example E-Mail Message

“Attached you will find your requested data.  Please note that the attached data file has a '7z' extension.  This is a 7-Zip compressed file.  7-Zip is freely available, open source software for file compression ( and currently seems to be the best compression software, significantly outperforming win-zip.  The attached compressed files are 6 MB, while these same files were 95 MB in .zip format (168 MB uncompressed).  If you have a problem or concern with downloading or using this software, please let me know.  I’ll be happy to provide the data differently.”

7-Zip Description

7-Zip is open source software and is a file archiver with a high compression ratio. The program supports:

  • Packing / unpacking: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM
  • Unpacking only: ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DEB, DMG, FAT, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, VHD, WIM, XAR and Z.

Ranking Elements of Biodiversity in Idaho

Historically, IDFG Biologists used a data management system, called Biotics, to track Element information and aide in the development of conservation ranks.  Biotics managed the information in the background and ranking often involved a fair amount of qualitative assessment and judgment by an expert or group.  This process had issues with consistency and repeatability.  In 2004, NatureServe formed the Element Ranking Working Group to address these issues and to develop a ranking protocol.  The major product of this group was a ranking calculator, which IDFG biologists now rely on for assisting in the assignment of status ranks.  This ranking system is intended to be free of bias, transparent to users, and allow for consistency of application within and between groups.  It also provides documentation for tracking of the decision process.

What’s necessary to accurately rank species in Idaho? 

The short answer is the knowledge of rarity, trends and threats for a species.  NatureServe has developed a rank calculator to enable the calculation of conservation status ranks for a “unit of biological diversity”, also known as an “Element.”  This Element may be a species or natural community.

Don’t you need an EO?

No, Element Occurrence (EO) records are not necessary for ranking a species or community.  A collection of criteria, which can include EO’s, are used in assessing and determining an Element’s conservation status rank.

Rank Calculator:

NatureServe provides a Microsoft Excel workbook that allows for automatic calculation of an element conservation status rank from data that is entered into the forms and tables included within the workbook.  The “NatureServe Conservation Status Assessments: Rank Calculator Version 2.0”, along with supporting material can be downloaded at  Supporting materials include: Factors for Assessing Extinction Rate and Methodology for Assigning Ranks.  Use of this tool allows for more consistent, accurate, repeatable and transparent ranking of species.

The rank calculator uses three categories (rarity, trends and threats), with a cumulative ten conservation status factors, of which eight are “core” factors, for assessing conservation status.  These factors, by category, used to assess conservation status are:

• Rarity: Population Size, Range Extent, Area of Occupancy, Number of Occurrences, Number of Occurrences or Percent Area with Good Viability/Ecological Integrity, and Environmental Specificity (used only when the Number of Occurrences and Area of Occupancy are unknown);
• Trends: Long-term and Short-term Trend in population size or area;
• Threats: Threat Impact (generated by considering the scope and severity of the major threats), and Intrinsic Vulnerability (used only if Threat Impact is unknown).
(NatureServe 2009).

A rank can be assigned with as few as two of the eight core factors, including either: 2 rarity categories (one of which must be either Range Extent or Area of Occupancy), or 1 rarity and 1 trend or 1 threat category.