Safeguarding Our Lands, Waters, and Communities: DNR's Plan for Climate Resilience

Washington State Department of Natural Resources
Posted on: 5/21/2020 - Updated on: 7/21/2021

Posted by

William Golding



Across the state, we are seeing and feeling impacts related to a changing climate. Wildfire and smoke are threatening the health and welfare of people throughout the state. Orca and salmon runs are in decline. Communities are confronting coastal flooding, water shortages, and drought. As these impacts mount, already highly impacted communities and vulnerable populations will face increasing risks.

At DNR, our first step has been to identify and prioritize the ways in which climate change impacts our mission and responsibilities. For example, we know that our wildland firefighters are facing changes in wildfire behavior that have implications for wildfire preparation and response. Our forests confront the potential for increased damage from insects, pathogens, and drought, and our agricultural lands are facing decreasing water supplies and potential increases in weeds and invasive species. In addition, we are confronting the potential for increased damage to roads and other infrastructure from changes in precipitation, and the challenges of ocean acidification and sea level rise.

This report takes a critical look at what our agency is doing today to address and respond to climate change. It also sets forth DNR’s priority responses for each program and at a statewide level to achieve climate resilience on our lands and for our beneficiaries and communities. For many responses, DNR can take action with our existing resources and authorities. Others will require support from the Legislature and need the expertise of our many partners across the state to achieve the goals. Finally, this plan provides options for supporting communities of Washington State to take critical steps to become more resilient.

This climate resilience plan illustrates the enduring commitment we have as an agency to work alongside partners, scientists, lawmakers, tribes, beneficiaries, communities, and others to achieve climate resilience across our state.

Affiliated Organizations

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) aims to provide professional, forward-looking stewardship of our state lands, natural resources, and environment, and leadership in creating a sustainable future for the Trusts and all citizens. DNR is a Washington State agency that protects and manages 5.6 million acres of state-owned land that the people of Washington own. Much of this land (3 million acres) is state trust land that provides revenue to help pay for construction of public schools, universities, and other state institutions, and funds services in many counties.