Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is located where the freshwater of the Nisqually River meets the saltwater of south Puget Sound, creating the Nisqually River Delta. The delta is a biologically-rich and diverse area that supports a variety of habitats including the estuary, freshwater wetlands and riparian woodlands. It is considered the last unspoiled major estuary in Puget Sound.

Citizen’s Guide: Adapting to Climate Change on the Oregon Coast

This Citizen’s Guide is intended to serve as an introduction to the vast amount of information available on topics related to climate change effects on the Oregon coast, as well as a sourcebook for citizens interested in helping their communities to begin the long process of adapting to these effects. In publishing the Guide, the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition anticipates that most readers will access and read it online with Internet access or in an electronic format, such as a PDF, which will enable easy access to additional information.

The Guide has two parts:

  • Part One, A Primer, presents an overview of the topics pertaining to adapting to climate change on the Oregon coast. The Primer contains numerous embedded hyperlinks to enable readers to click directly to external websites or online PDF documents for additional information.
  • Part Two, Scientific and Policy Considerations, is a set of papers written by Oregon experts in science, law, and policy. These papers, commissioned by Oregon Shores for this project in 2012, also contain references to further information.

Riparian Prioritization and Status Assessment for Climate Change Resilience of Coldwater Stream Habitats within the Appalachian and Northeastern Regions

Among a host of other critical ecosystem functions, intact riparian forests can help to reduce vulnerability of coldwater stream habitats to warming regional temperatures. Restoring and conserving these forests can therefore be an important part of regional and landscape-scale conservation plans, but managers need science and decision-support tools to help determine when these actions will be most effective. To help fill this need, we developed the Riparian Prioritization for Climate Change Resilience (RPCCR) web-based decision support tool to quickly and easily identify, based on current riparian cover and predicted vulnerability to air temperature warming, sites that are priority candidates for riparian restoration and conservation. This tool was successfully incorporated into the suite of open-source data layers and delineation tools currently served by the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative, including the Eastern Brook Trout Assessment. Critical objectives included 1) transfer of the RPCCR to an Open-Source platform (from ARC-GIS) 2) extension of the RPCCR range-wide 3) ability to prioritize sites at any user-determined spatial scale 4) input from, and training for, users and stakeholders. In addition to development and application of the RPCCR, we used the riparian and landscape-level spatial coverages to establish current riparian cover levels across the entire range with the goal of comparing cover levels across jurisdictions and catchments with and without brook trout and other salmonids, and to serve as a baseline for future detection of status and trends.

Report to the Secretary of the Interior from the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science

The Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science (ACCCNRS or the Committee) advises the Secretary of the Interior on the operations and partnerships of the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) and Climate Science Centers (CSCs). The Committee commends the United States (U.S.) Geological Survey (USGS) and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on the establishment of the NCCWSC and CSCs. The NCCWSC and CSCs fill a vital role by linking with universities and other partners and working with resource managers to plan, assess, and co-produce the scientific information and tools needed to manage the risks of climate change to help conserve fish, wildlife, and their habitats as well as other natural and cultural resources.

In addition, the Committee would like to recognize USGS and DOI for significant accomplishments since the inception of the NCCWSC and CSCs, including establishing eight CSCs; developing stakeholder-informed science agendas for each of them; taking a scientific focus on the impacts of projected climate change on fish, wildlife, and their habitats, as well as other natural and cultural resources; emphasizing the scientific needs of resource managers and decision makers; drafting a regionally derived national science agenda; and allocating over $93 million in funding for climate adaptation research projects.

In this report, the Committee offers nine recommendations regarding the co-production of actionable science, encouraging coordination and collaboration within DOI and with partners, engaging tribal and indigenous peoples, and program evaluation.

Predicting Climate Change Impacts on Aquatic Ecosystems across the Pacific Northwest

Trout and salmon populations, which play a critical role in many ecosystems and economies, have dramatically declined in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) due to habitat degradation and fragmentation and introductions of invasive species, and are expected to be further impacted by future climate change. Understanding how climate change will influence the abundance, distribution, genetic diversity, and value of these native fish species is crucial for their management and recovery. This project used modeling techniques to study how climate change might affect freshwater habitats of key trout and salmon species throughout the PNW. The goal of the study was to develop and provide novel tools that will help managers predict and respond to potential climate change induced impacts on habitats, populations, and economies.

Northeast Regional Climate Hub: Assessment of Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies

The Northeast Regional Climate Hub covers Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The Northern Forests Climate Sub Hub shares this footprint and represents people working and living in the forests of the Northeast.

About 21 percent of land in these 12 States is farmland (6 percent of national total), and 62 percent is classified as timberland (land area covered by trees is somewhat larger). The northeastern United States is home to about 175,000 farms that collectively produce agricultural commodities worth more than $21 billion per year. The most important commodities in the Northeast are dairy production and poultry, and about half of the field crops (including pasture) grown in the Northeast are for animal feed. Horticulture is a relatively large portion of total plant production in the Northeast, as are perennial fruits such as apples, pears, blueberries, and cranberries. Farms in the Northeast are on average smaller than in many other parts of the country, and a greater percentage of these are operated by women than in the rest of the United States. Organic production is relatively greater than in most other regions.

According to the National Climate Assessment, the northeastern region of the United States faces an array of climate-related challenges, including heavier rainfall and greater rainfall totals. Additionally, on the basis of data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Observer Network, it is gradually getting warmer. Regional annual and seasonal temperatures have generally remained above the 1901–1960 average over the last 30 years, with long-term annual and seasonal temperatures trending upward between 0.11 and 0.24°F/decade over this time period. Furthermore, the length of the freeze-free season has increased by about 10 days. Crops and forests in the Northeast are also under increasing pressure from weeds, insects, and diseases, and these pest pressures are compounded by the additional stress of variable weather and a changing climate.

More intense and higher rainfall totals increase the burden that agriculture and forest producers face in being able to conduct timely operations. The Northeast Regional Climate Hub is working across a range of crops, forests, and livestock production systems to assemble the available information into tools and practices that can increase the resilience of these systems to climate change. Practices that improve soil health and protect soils from erosion are of particular importance because healthy soils are a key to productivity and resilience.

This vulnerability assessment reviews present knowledge of agricultural and forest susceptibility to climate variability in the Northeast and will serve as a guide to focus future adaptation work.

Creating and Maintaining Resilient Forests in Vermont: Adapting Forests to Climate Change

The intent of this document is to supplement current forest management planning and practices with forest-adaptation strategies appropriate to current climate change trends and modeled projections. The content is mostly intended as guidance for forest practitioners, but includes some policy-relevant recommendations.

Resilient Sites for Terrestrial Conservation in the Southeast Region

Climate change is altering species distributions in unpredictable ways (IPPC 2007, Van der Putten et al. 2010) and conservationists require a way to prioritize strategic land conservation that will conserve the maximum amount of biological diversity despite changing distribution patterns. Conservation approaches based on species locations or on predicted species’ responses to climate, are necessary, but hampered by uncertainty. Here we offer a complementary approach, one that aims to identify key areas for conservation based on land characteristics that increase diversity and resilience.

A climate-resilient conservation portfolio includes sites representative of all geophysical settings selected for their landscape diversity and local connectedness. We developed methods to identify such a portfolio. First, we mapped geophysical settings across the entire study area. Second, within each geophysical setting we located sites with diverse topography that were highly connected by natural cover. Third, we compared the identified sites with the current network of conservation lands and with The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC’s) portfolio of important biodiversity sites identified based on rare species and natural community locations. Using this information we noted geophysical settings that were underrepresented in current conservation and identified places for each setting that could serve as strongholds for diversity both now and into the future.

Taking the Lead on Climate Change: Land Trusts Can Safeguard the Southeast’s Natural Heritage

Land trusts have an important role to play in addressing climate change. Some conservation organizations are already involved in protecting forests that sequester carbon dioxide, offsetting harmful greenhouse gases. Others promote more compact development patterns, which help reduce CO2 emissions. But most land trusts protect land for a variety of reasons that typically have more to do with recreation, biodiversity, view sheds, water quality or cultural values. While land conservation for such purposes is important, the question that many will ask of land trusts is: What are you doing about climate change? For those organizations interested in answering that question, the challenge is to identify those places that can provide refuge to species and serve as natural strongholds in the event of drought, flood and other disturbances, and thereby facilitate adaptation by both wildlife and humans to climate change. The challenge is pressing, and it will require new knowledge and different ways of working.

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the North-central California Coast and Ocean

This vulnerability assessment is a science-based effort to identify how and why focal resources (habitats, species, and ecosystem services) across the North-central California coast and ocean region are likely to be affected by future climate conditions. The goal of this assessment is to provide expert-driven, scientifically sound assessments to enable marine resource managers to respond to, plan, and manage for the impacts of climate change to habitats, species, and ecosystem services within the region. This information can help prioritize management actions, and can help managers understand why a given resource may or may not be vulnerable to a changing climate, enabling a more appropriate and effective management response. Climate change vulnerability of 44 focal resources, including eight habitats, populations of 31 species, and five ecosystem services was assessed by considering exposure and sensitivity to climate changes and non-climate stressors and adaptive capacity. The 44 focal resources were identified and assessed by representatives from federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions. Coastal habitats in the study region, including beaches and dunes, estuaries, and the rocky intertidal, along with associated species and ecosystem services, were identified through this assessment as being most vulnerable, and will likely be prioritized for future management action.