Preparing Oregon’s Fish, Wildlife, and Habitats for Future Climate Change: A Guide for State Adaptation Efforts

Posted on: 7/14/2014 - Updated on: 2/27/2020

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CAKE Site Admin


Climate change is the primary long-term challenge facing Oregon’s people, ecosystems, and economies. Immediate action is needed to prepare for and proactively adapt to the consequences of climate change. State-level preparedness will be critical in coping with projected changes such as increased temperatures, rising sea levels and increased storm surges, declining snowpack, more frequent extreme precipitation events, and an increased risk of drought and heat waves. These changes have already created a broad array of secondary effects in Oregon’s ecosystems.

As the effects of a changing climate become increasingly apparent, Oregon needs a strategy for preparing for, managing, and responding to climate change impacts. This document, prepared by the Oregon Global Warming Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Adaptation Subcommittee, outlines a plan for preparing for climate change in natural systems, with a specific focus on management of fish and wildlife populations and their habitats.

In light of the pressing need for techniques and strategies for adapting to climate change, the members of this subcommittee have outlined a set of basic guiding principles for managing fish, wildlife, and habitats in a changing climate:

1. Maintain and restore key ecosystem processes;
2. Establish an interconnected network of
lands and waters that support fish and wildlife
3. Acknowledge, evaluate, and weigh the risks
involved with proposed management actions in
the context of anticipated climate conditions;
4. Coordinate across political and jurisdictional

Each of these guiding principles carries significant policy implications. In the short term, getting needed resources to agencies should be a high priority in any adaptation strategy. In the long term, however, more significant policy changes will be needed to help agencies manage the effects of climate change. Adaptation efforts should capitalize on existing policies and strategies whenever possible, but many existing plans and policies will need to be updated to account for climate change impacts. The subcommittee offers the following recommendations for developing policy to support fish and wildlife adaptation.

Address key adaptation funding needs.
• Invest in implementation of the Oregon
Conservation Strategy.
• Designate a full-time staff lead on climate
change in relevant state agencies.
• Use revenue from future cap-and-trade or
carbon tax policies to help fund state
adaptation efforts.
• Invest in agencies’ adaptation needs.

Review, revise, and add policies to prioritize
• Direct and enable state agencies to address
climate change adaptation.
• Review existing policies in the context of
climate change.
• Develop a state policy supporting provision
of ecosystem services.
• Authorize and encourage agencies to manage

Develop new institutions for collaboration and
• Create a state-wide monitoring framework.
• Highlight public education and outreach.
• Implement the relevant recommendations of
the Western Governor’s Association.
• Plan and prepare for long-term governance

The guidelines and policy recommendations described here depend on the continual improvement of research and monitoring on climate change and its effects on fish, wildlife, and habitats. The subcommittee identified the following research priorities in this arena:

• Climate change vulnerability assessments;
• Monitoring and evaluation of management
• Long-term research on climate trends and
ecosystem responses;
• Regional downscaling of climate models.


Defenders of Wildlife and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (2008). Preparing Oregon’s fish, wildlife, and habitats for future climate change: A guide for state adaptation efforts. Oregon: Defenders of Wildlife. Retrieved from CAKE: