Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Priority Wildlife Species

The Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife and the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment jointly developed a climate-change vulnerability assessment for priority wildlife and plant species and habitats on the Navajo landscape. The priority species and habitats included in this analysis were identified by the entire staff of NNDFW through a structured planning process.

This report provides a summary of projected climate-change impacts for the southwestern United States and Navajo lands as well as an assessment of attributes promoting climate vulnerability and resilience for priority wildlife and plant species. Animal species discussed in this report are the Golden Eagle, Mule Deer, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Lion, and American Black Bear. Plant species discussed in this report include Pinyon Pine, Yucca spp., Mesa Verde Cactus, Navajo Sage, and Salt Cedar (Tamarisk).

This vulnerability assessment provides a conceptual framework for further climate adaptation planning on the Navajo landscape within an adaptive management context. Specific climate adaptation actions that are proposed in this report include: conservation of wildlife movement corridors; “climate smart” reintroductions of Desert Bighorn Sheep; consideration of Golden Eagles in the planning and siting of renewable energy developments; and actions to reduce human conflicts with Black Bears. An example is provided to show how landscape connectivity analyses can be used to identify areas where “on-the-ground” conservation actions can be implemented.

EPA Region 10 Climate Change and TMDL Pilot - Qualitative Assessment: Evaluating the Impacts of Climate Change on Endangered Species Act Recovery Actions for the South Fork Nooksack River, WA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 and EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) and Office of Water (OW) have launched a pilot research project to consider how projected climate change impacts could be incorporated into a total maximum daily load (TMDL) program and influence restoration plans. The pilot research project will use a temperature TMDL being developed for the South Fork Nooksack River (SFNR), in Washington, as the pilot TMDL for a climate change analysis. An overarching goal of the pilot research project is to ensure that relevant findings and methodologies related to climate change are incorporated into the the SFNR Temperaure TMDL in such a way that the regulatory objectives and timelines of the TMDL are also met. 

Becuase of the collaborative nature of this project, the project objectives have been specified for EPA Region 10 and OW, and for EPA ORD. The pilot research project objectives are summarized below. 

The State of Climate-­Informed Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

Coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) is a science-based, collaborative process used to sustainably manage resources, interests, and activities among diverse coastal and ocean users and sectors. Climate change is affecting marine and coastal ecosystems throughout the world, manifesting in warming air and sea temperatures, increasing coastal storms, and rising sea levels. The existing and projected impacts of climate change and ocean acidification need to be incorporated into planning processes to ensure long-term success. Because CMSP is an emerging field, it is important to look to other coastal and marine planning and management frameworks to identify opportunities for climate-informed action.

With the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, EcoAdapt created the Climate-Informed CMSP Initiative to examine the connections between climate change and coastal and marine planning. This included conducting a needs assessment survey to identify what practitioners need in order to integrate climate change into their planning efforts, as well as research into the state of climate-informed CMSP efforts with the intention of identifying case study examples of adaptation in action. Our key research questions included:

  1. How is climate change currently being integrated into CMSP-related efforts?
  2. How can climate-informed CMSP be done?
  3. What do practitioners need in order to integrate climate change into CMSP?

Clearwater River Subbasin (ID) Climate Change Adaptation Plan

The Clearwater River Subbasin comprises much of the original homeland of the Nez Perce Tribe (Tribe) and still is the largest population center for the Tribe. Historically, the Nez Perce people were hunters and gatherers and thrived on abundant salmon, elk and deer, camas and other roots and berries. The protection of these resources is a fundamental mission of the Nez Perce Tribe. The first documented non-Indians to traverse this area were members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, who paddled down the Clearwater River in dugout canoes in 1805. Subsequently, other early explorers and fur traders used the Clearwater River as a convenient westward route. Henry Spalding established a mission near present-day Lapwai in the 1830s. The discovery of gold on a tributary to the Clearwater River brought in large numbers of settlers. Agriculture and logging became the main economic activities in the second half of the 19th and early 20th century (Sobota 2001). Because of dams built on the Columbia River and tributaries to the Clearwater River in the 20th century, salmon and steelhead runs have been drastically reduced from historical levels. Today, agriculture, timber production and mining are still important for the region, but recreation and tourism have also become major industries.

The adaptation plan developed strategies to protect forest habitat and sustainably managed forest industry, protect water quality and quantity, and support long term economic viability for those whose livelihoods are dependent upon natural resources. A range of potential adaptive management actions exist, including the reduction of existing fuel loads in forests to lower the risk of high severity fires, increasing ecosystem connectivity to facilitate species migration and conserving and restoring adequate aquatic habitat to support ecosystem functions, to name a few.

Climate Change Hits Home: Adaptation Strategies for the San Francisco Bay Area

We have known about the perils of climate change for more than two decades. But global efforts to slow it down by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions have largely failed. Even if we could stop producing greenhouse gases tomorrow, the high concentration of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere will cause the climate to continue to change. As a result we must not only intensify our efforts to reduce climate change but start preparing for its inevitable effects.

In this report, SPUR addresses how we should adapt to climate change in the Bay Area, including which tools and strategies will make us resilient to its most severe impacts, including drought, higher temperatures and sea level rise. We recommend more than 30 strategies for local and regional agencies to begin minimizing the region’s vulnerabilities to these long-term but potentially catastrophic effects.

Forest Adaptation Resources: climate change tools and approaches for land managers, 2nd edition

Forests across the United States are expected to undergo numerous changes in response to the changing climate. This second edition of the Forest Adaptation Resources provides a collection of resources designed to help forest managers incorporate climate change considerations into management and devise adaptation tactics. It was developed as part of the Climate Change Response Framework and reflects the expertise, creativity, and feedback of dozens of direct contributors and hundreds of users of the first edition over the last several years (see http://dx.doi.org/10.2737/NRS-GTR-87). Six interrelated chapters include: (1) a description of the overarching Climate Change Response Framework, which generated these resources; (2) a brief guide to help forest managers judge or initiate vulnerability assessments; (3) a "menu" of adaptation strategies and approaches that are directly relevant to forests of the Northeast and upper Midwest; (4) a second menu of adaptation strategies and approaches oriented to urban forests; (5) a workbook process with step-by-step instructions to assist land managers in developing on-the-ground climate adaptation tactics that address their management objectives; and (6) several real-world examples of how these resources have been used to develop adaptation tactics. The ideas, tools, and resources presented in the different chapters are intended to inform and support existing decisionmaking processes of multiple organizations with diverse management goals.

A Three-Step Decision Support Framework for Climate Adaptation: Selecting Climate-Informed Conservation Goals and Strategies for Native Salmonids in the Northern U.S. Rockies

The impact of climate change on cold-water ecosystems—and the cold-adapted native salmonids present in these systems—is the subject of a substantial body of research.. Recently, scientists have developed a number of datasets and analyses that provide insight into projections of climate change e ects on native salmonid populations in the northern U.S. Rockies region. Alongside this research, a number of management options for helping native salmonids respond to the e ects of climate change—also known as ‘climate adaptation’ strategies and actions—have been identi ed by scientists and managers in the region. These analyses and climate adaptation options o er valuable information to managers charged with making di cult decisions about where and how to best conserve and restore the region’s native salmonids given the challenges posed by shifting climatic conditions. Yet managers in the region continue to identify challenges in applying available information on climate change impacts, particularly in determining forward-looking conservation goals and selecting appropriate actions from the long menu of available climate adaptation options.

 

To augment this research and compilation of climate-informed management options, we have developed a decision support framework aimed at helping managers think critically about how to apply climate information to their management decisions. Speci cally, our framework is meant to help managers:

1) articulate an appropriate conservation goal for cold-adapted native salmonid populations taking into account the impacts of climate change on habitat suitability, threats from non-native sh, and connectivity;

2) consider the climate adaptation strategies that might best support that goal; and

3) identify actions that are available to implement the chosen strategies.

Given the complexity and uncertainty of conserving cold-adapted species in an era of rapid climate change and the limited resources available for conservation, choices about where to invest conservation dollars require defensible and transparent decision making. The three-step decision framework we provide here is meant to be a starting point to help managers document how they have incorporated information on climate change into their management decisions and prioritization of limited resources. The process used to develop the framework for native salmonids can be used to tailor decision support for additional conservation targets of interest. Ultimately, managers can integrate this climate change thinking into existing conservation strategies and management plans, alongside the myriad other regulatory, social, economic and locally-driven factors and mandates that in uence management decisions.

Western Regional Action Plan

The Western Regional Action Plan outlines present and prioritizes future efforts to increase the production, delivery, and use of the climate-related information needed to help fulfill NOAA Fisheries’ mission and implement the NOAA Fisheries’ Climate Science Strategy (NCSS) in the CCLME over the next three to five years.

Alaska Regional Action Plan for the Southeastern Bering Sea

The Alaska Regional Action Plan (ARAP) for the southeastern Bering Sea  conforms to a nationally consistent blueprint, the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy. The Strategy guides efforts by NOAA Fisheries and its partners to address information needs organized into seven science objectives that represent the process of managing the Nation’s fisheries in the face of changing climate conditions. The goal of the ARAP is to increase the production, delivery and use of climate related information for marine resource management in the region. The ARAP identifies strengths, weaknesses, priorities, and actions to implement the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy in Alaska over the next 3-5 years, and contributes to implementation of the Strategy by focusing on building regional capacity and partnerships to address the Strategy’s seven science objectives. Successful implementation of the ARAP will require enhanced collaboration with our academic and agency partners.

Gulf of Mexico Regional Action Plan

The Gulf of Mexico Regional Action Plan identifies 62 actions to advance the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy at current funding and staffing levels, and others that could be accomplished with additional resources. These actions are broadly consistent with activities currently underway at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center and the Southeast Regional Office, but will require greater integration with these offices along with greater collaboration with other NOAA regional experts, such as the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, and other partners throughout the region.