In partnership with state agencies and federal partners, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies released a progress report describing actions taken that collectively address impacts and future threats to fish, wildlife, and plants from climate change. The report follows up on the publication in March 2013 of the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy.
Fish, wildlife, and plant resources provide important benefits and services to Americans every day, including jobs, income, food, clean water and air, building materials, storm protection, tourism and recreation. For example, hunting, fishing and other wildlife-related recreation contribute an estimated $120 billion to the nation’s economy every year.
The progress report, entitled “Taking Action,” uses 50 examples of ongoing and completed conservation projects to demonstrate the tangible steps that federal, state and tribal natural resource agencies are taking to safeguard fish, wildlife and plants in a changing climate. Across the country, the agencies responsible for managing fish, wildlife and plants are working with partners and stakeholders to take concrete steps to collectively address the impacts and future threats of climate change.
The cases described in the report cover a diverse array of geographies and approaches for taking action for wildlife, from mapping out central Appalachia’s most resilient forests and streams to collecting data on Alaska’s changing coast to help communities make conservation management decisions. Other examples include:
- Using conservation easements and other tools to protect more than 250,000 acres from White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire to Moosehead Lake in Maine, providing a connective corridor of contiguous, climate-resilient habitat
- Installing engineered log jams and planting native trees to protect remnant spawning habitat for salmon in the Quinault River on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula while also stabilizing streams against erosion.
- Providing online training for natural resource managers and conservation professionals across the nation on the fundamentals of climate science and tools for climate adaptation.
“The state perspective has been integral to shaping the Taking Action progress report. The report builds on and documents many of the partnership efforts underway to move climate adaptation from planning to action across the country” said Kevin Hunting, Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “While the report lays out priority actions being taken now, there is still much more to be done to comprehensively address wildlife and fisheries adaptation to a rapidly changing climate.”
The examples highlighted in this report are not a comprehensive accounting of what has been accomplished, but rather illustrate the diversity of projects, scales of planning, and partnerships that can and are being be utilized across the natural resource management sector to respond to the impacts of climate change. These challenges include changing species distributions and migration patterns, the spread of wildlife diseases and invasive species, the inundation of coastal habitats with rising sea levels, changing productivity of our coastal oceans, and changes in freshwater availability.
Development of the original strategy was guided by an innovative partnership of federal, state and tribal fish and wildlife conservation agencies in response to a 2010 call by the U.S. Congress for a national, government-wide climate adaptation strategy to assist fish, wildlife, and plants. The strategy’s implementation is coordinated through the Joint Implementation Working Group, which is co-led by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (representing state fish and wildlife agencies).
The Joint Implementation Working Group, which includes representatives from 15 federal agencies, five state fish and wildlife agencies and one inter-tribal commission, oversaw development of the “Taking Action” Progress Report with support from the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies.
The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy and the “Taking Action” Progress Report can be found on the web at www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov.