This webinar discusses the recent report, Integrating Climate Change into Northeast and Midwest State Wildlife Action Plans, a tool to assist in the revision of 10-year state plans. The purpose of this NE CSC-led cooperative project is to provide a synthesis of what is known and what is uncertain about climate change and its impacts across the NE CSC region, with a particular focus on the responses and vulnerabilities of Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need (RSGCN) and the habitats they depend on. Another goal is to describe a range of climate change adaptation approaches, processes, tools, and potential partnerships that are available to State natural resource managers across the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States.
The Salt Marsh Advancement Zone Assessment for Connecticut report is the culmination of a statewide study of each of the 24 coastal municipalities in Connecticut. At the municipal scale, these 24 individual reports inform communities about future marsh advancement locations, current land use of those affected properties, and which parcels are critical to the persistence of the community’s salt marshes.
The Department of Interior Northeast Climate Science Center (NE CSC) conducts research that responds to the regional natural resource management community’s needs to anticipate, monitor, and adapt to climate change. The NE CSC is supported by a consortium of partners that includes the University of Massachusetts Amherst, College of Menominee Nation, Columbia University, Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri Columbia, and University of Wisconsin. The NE CSC also engages and collaborates with a diversity of other federal, state, academic, tribal, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to conduct collaborative, stakeholder-driven, and climate-focused work.
The State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) are revised every 10 years; states are currently working towards a target deadline of October 2015. SWAP coordinators have been challenged to incorporate climate change impacts and species responses into their current revisions. This synthesis is intended to inform the science going into Northeast and Midwest SWAPs across the 22 NE CSC states ranging from Maine to Virginia, and Minnesota and Missouri in the eastern United States. It is anticipated that this synthesis will help guide SWAP authors in writing specific sections, help revise and finalize existing sections, or be incorporated as an appendix or addendum.
The purpose of this NE CSC-led cooperative report is to provide a synthesis of what is known and what is uncertain about climate change and its impacts across the NE CSC region, with a particular focus on the responses and vulnerabilities of Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need (RSGCN) and the habitats they depend on. Another goal is to describe a range of climate change adaptation approaches, processes, tools, and potential partnerships that are available to State natural resource managers across the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States. Through illustrative case studies submitted by the NE CSC and partners, we demonstrate climate change adaptation efforts being explored and implemented across local and large-landscape scales.
This document is divided into four sections and addresses the following climate and management relevant questions:
- Climate Change in the Northeast and Midwest United States: How is the climate changing and projected to change across the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States?
- Northeast and Midwest regional species and habitats at greatest risk and most vulnerable to climate impacts: What are the relative vulnerabilities of fish and wildlife species and their habitats to climate change in the Northeast and Midwest?
- Biological responses to climate impacts with a focus on Northeast and Midwest Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need (RSGCN): How are threatened fish and wildlife likely to respond or adapt to climate change in the Northeast and Midwest?
- Scale-appropriate adaptation strategies and actions in the Northeast and Midwest United States: What approaches, strategies, and actions could be taken to sustain fish, wildlife and their habitats in the short and long term across the Northeast and Midwest?
The outline and content for this document were developed with input from State Coordinators, members of the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, DOI Northeast Climate Science Center affiliated researchers, and other partners including the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and The Nature Conservancy. Terwilliger Consulting, Inc., was especially instrumental in helping connect and coordinate the authors of this report with State representatives through conference calls and email surveys to develop the most needed and effective information for current SWAP revisions.
On a final note, the SWAPs are living documents that can be added to and evolve on timescales beyond the 10-year revision cycle. The development of this report was timed such that SWAP coordinators and writers would have sufficient time to implement this input before their October 2015 deadline. However, this document is also meant to serve as a starting point for coordinated and collaborative climate science and adaptation across the region; the NE CSC 5 endeavors to continue to provide actionable science during the coming years in collaboration with its diverse federal, state, NGO, and academic partners.
Seasonal flooding along the Napa River is a regular occurrence, and records indicate there have been at least 22 serious floods on the river since 1865. In 1998, Napa County voters passed a measure for the Napa River Flood Protection Project (NRFPP), which works to achieve 100-year flood protection while supporting living river principles (e.g., reconnecting the river to its historic floodplain, retain natural channel features).
Black ash trees are found throughout much of southeastern Canada and play important cultural and economic roles in the lives of First Nation communities. Unfortunately, black ash populations are rapidly disappearing due to anthropogenic impacts and other stressors. In response, many First Nations in the Northern Appalachian/Acadian eco-region are working to preserve and restore black ash tree populations.
The Nisqually Delta Restoration Project is the largest tidal marsh restoration effort in the Pacific Northwest. Over four miles of dikes were removed in 2009 to return tidal flow to roughly 762 acres in the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Washington State to enhance wildlife habitat and the buffering capacity of marshes to sea level rise and increased flooding. Along with other local restoration efforts, 22 miles of the historic delta system have been restored, increasing salt marsh habitat in southern Puget Sound by over 50 percent.
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.
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.
The Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Strategies for Focal Resources of the Sierra Nevada project, a joint effort between EcoAdapt and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), assessed the vulnerability of Sierra Nevada resources to both climate and non-climate stressors and developed adaptation strategies designed to reduce resource vulnerability and/or enhance resource resilience.
New tools and approaches are becoming available for wildlife conservation managers to help support climate adaptation activities, but few studies have documented how practitioners have applied these tools and perceive their utility. We surveyed the literature and users of the NatureServe Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), a tool that is widely used in North America to assess species' vulnerability to climate change, to characterize 1) how the tool has been used; 2) the objectives addressed by projects using the tool; 3) novel approaches that might be useful to other users; 4) how the results contributed to climate change adaptation planning; and 5) needed improvements recognized by users of the tool. Responses from 25 CCVI users, representing state agencies and natural heritage programs, conservation organizations, and universities, combined with published reports from 20 CCVI assessments, indicated that the CCVI has been applied to large numbers of species from diverse taxonomic groups. Results from these assessments have been used to communicate about climate change vulnerability, select species to be prioritized for management, inform management decisions, identify monitoring needs, and inform land-acquisition decisions. Users of the CCVI have developed novel ways to address uncertainty in climate and species natural-history data, involve stakeholders, evaluate migratory species, address specific management questions, and combine outputs with the results of parallel spatial analyses. To address user needs, future iterations of the tool should address climate exposure in the full life cycle of migratory species; better examine species dependent on specific vegetation microhabitats; and improve treatment of the effects of climate on diseases, parasites, and natural enemies.