To make its determinations, EPA must examine, on a geographically refined basis, if and how an endangered species’ location may intersect with the use or proposed use of a particular pesticide product. This complex and detailed evaluation requires use of a robust system to organize, accumulate, and aggregate sensitive data on species locations and attributes. Use of FESTF data allows EPA to generate critical species range maps and other species status reports that are used to help ensure that EPA’s pesticide registration decisions will not have adverse effects on endangered species.
Since its formation, FESTF has worked to improve the consistency, quality, availability, and use of the best available information addressing endangered species and pesticide use. The foundation of this effort is FESTF’s development of an information management system, known as Gopher, which provides members, EPA, and other federal agencies with access to highly sensitive and proprietary information on endangered species locations and a unique mechanism to process this high-quality locality and biological data for use essential to the Agency’s pesticide registration process.
FESTF’s Information Management System – Gopher
Gopher is a web-based, password-protected custom software tool that allows users to generate comparisons of data FESTF has licensed and otherwise developed and submitted to EPA related to pesticide use and endangered species at various geographic scales. These data represent multi-state data on species listed by the ESA, and they contain species information and habitat descriptions, as well as spatial data on species location. Gopher has also been designed to incorporate updated information as it is collected.
Gopher allows users to spatially interact with best-available datasets and facilitates preparation of endangered species assessments. Gopher-generated data are used by EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs in its development of species-specific refinements for endangered species and to develop recommendations to avoid adverse effects on endangered species. To enhance interagency consistency and optimize species protection under the ESA, FESTF also makes Gopher data available to officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and U.S. Department of Agriculture.