Responding to Ecological Drought in the Intermountain Region
The economic, social, and environmental costs of drought can be significant, and vulnerability to drought will likely increase in the future with a warming climate. To promote stronger drought resilience on federal lands, the National Drought Resilience Partnership was initiated in 2016. As a part of this effort, the U.S. Forest Service conducted a series of focused workshops across the country to build the capacity to address the impact of short- and long-term drought on forest and rangeland resources, thus informing land management, restoration, and climate change adaptation.
In March 2017, the Forest Service Intermountain Region held a drought adaptation workshop to share state- of-science information on drought and climate effects in the region, and develop management response strategies. Scientists shared information about drought’s effect on hydrology and aquatic ecosystems, forest vegetation, rangeland vegetation and soils, carbon storage, recreation, infrastructure, and water rights. Workshop participants prioritized vulnerabilities of each resource area relative to drought, and identified management strategies for adapting to projected drought conditions in the future.
Workshop participants included Forest Service regional office and national forest staff, the Great Basin and Southern Rockies Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, and the USDA Southwest Climate Hub. Many participants identified forest plan revisions and the need for improved management tools and practices as their primary motivation to participate.