In partnership with state and tribal agencies, the Obama Administration released this week the first nationwide strategy to help public and private decision makers address the impacts that climate change is having on natural resources and the people and economies that depend on them.
Developed in response to a request by Congress, the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is the product of extensive national dialogue that spanned nearly two years and was shaped by comments from more than 55,000 Americans.
“The specific implications of climate change on fish and wildlife are uncertain and will vary on a regional and state basis,” said Kevin Hunting, chief deputy director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“However, climate change is escalating and accelerating these threats, making it much more difficult and costly for agencies to manage.
That’s why the development and release of the National Strategy is important because it serves as a foundation of a science-based and collective nationwide effort and is truly a national strategy — not just a federal strategy.”
The National Strategy provides a roadmap of key steps needed over the next five years to reduce the current and expected impacts of climate change on our natural resources, which 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.
The National Strategy builds upon efforts already under way by federal, state and tribal governments, and other organizations to safeguard fish, wildlife and plants and provides specific voluntary steps that agencies and partners can take in the coming years to reduce costly damages and protect the health of our communities and economy.
The strategy does not prescribe any mandatory activities for government or nongovernmental entities, nor suggest any regulatory actions.
In California, significant changes have been measured in its climate such as changes in temperature and precipitation since the late 1800s. The state is experiencing more frequent and larger wildfires.
Precipitation is shifting toward more rain and less snow, which has implications for species and habitats as well as for water supplies in its rivers. Climate scientists project that in the coming decades California’s climate will warm even faster, with more frequent and intense heat waves, and further changes to the snowpack.
“Climate change is very real here and we’ve responded,” Hunting said.
“The National Strategy and the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy (CAS) (www.climatechange.ca.gov/adaptation/strategy/index.html) are examples of how federal and state efforts can work together to address climate change impacts to our fish, wildlife and plants. Addressing climate change is about partnerships at all levels.
“State fish and wildlife agencies recognize that climate change is a large-scale issue that will require a large-scale response to support robust populations and healthy habitats. We believe that this is the best insurance in an uncertain future.”
The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy can be found at www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov.
“State fish and wildlife agencies recognize that climate change is a large-scale issue that will require a large-scale response … ”
— Kevin Hunting, California Department of Fish and Wildlife