Adapting to climate change at Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park
Climate change presents a major challenge to natural resource managers both because of the magnitude of potential effects of climate change on ecosystem structure, processes, and function, and because of the uncertainty associated with those potential ecological effects. Concrete ways to adapt to climate change are needed to help natural resource managers take the first steps to incorporate climate change into management and take advantage of opportunities to counteract the negative effects of climate change.
We began a climate change adaptation case study at Olympic National Forest (ONF) in partnership with Olympic National Park (ONP) to determine how to adapt management of federal lands on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington, to climate change. The case study began in the summer of 2008 and continued for 1½ years. The case study process involved science-based sensitivity assessments, review of management activities and constraints, and adaptation workshops in each of four focus areas (hydrology and roads, fish, vegetation, and wildlife). The process produced adaptation options for ONF and ONP, and illustrated the utility of place-based vulnerability assessment and science-management workshops in adapting to climate change.
The case study process provides an example for other national forests, national parks, and natural resource agencies of how federal land management units can collaborate in the initial stages of climate change adaptation. Many of the ideas generated through this process can potentially be applied in other locations and in other agencies.