2019 Program Archive: Natural Resource Management Vulnerability and Adaptation Efforts: Examples from Across the Country

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Natural Resource Management Vulnerability and Adaptation Efforts: Examples from Across the Country

Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 4

Natural and working lands are vital for providing intact habitats and connectivity, supporting high biodiversity and healthy species, and delivering ecosystem services that neighboring, non-neighboring, and non-local visitors depend on. These lands also play a critical role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. This session will highlight efforts across the country to integrate climate change vulnerability and adaptation into natural resource management decision-making and on-the-ground projects. Featured projects include an effort in Colorado to conduct state- and local-level vulnerability assessments to inform management planning and develop actionable adaptation strategies for Bureau of Land Management natural resource managers; the Forest Adaptation Resources decision-support tool, which gives land managers “menus” of adaptation strategies and approaches that can be used to implement site-specific actions; a decision support framework that helps natural resource managers select appropriate adaptation actions for use in on-the-ground projects; efforts by park and recreation agencies across the country to implement community-based, collaborative, and holistic adaptation solutions; and an effort to plan and implement climate adaptation actions on the ground across 830,000 acres of public lands on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.

Restoring riparian habitats: A case study of adaptation actions on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim
Cerissa Hoglander, Grand Canyon Trust
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The Colorado Plateau – a vast and diverse region in the heart of the southwestern United States – is on the front lines of climate change where increased drought severity and precipitation variability threaten its human and ecological communities. Grand Canyon Trust, a non-profit conservation organization, is working on many initiatives in collaboration with an array of partners to protect and restore this ecologically and culturally significant region. In 2017 we presented one of these initiatives, a case study linking climate adaptation planning with on-the-ground action across 830,000 acres of public lands on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. This case study demonstrated a collaborative approach among public lands managers, our ranching partner, and volunteers to protect and restore springs ecosystems as biodiversity hotspots, important oases for wildlife, and water resources for livestock in a public lands ranching operation. Now, we present an update on this adaptation approach and report out on restoration progress. Across this multi-year effort, volunteers have now contributed over 2,700 hours to restore springs and lakes and over 700 hours to assess restoration needs on another 60 riparian areas. This combination of citizen science and on-the-ground engagement has strengthened new relationships among collaborators, bolstered a stewardship ethic, and provided key examples of restoration approaches in multi-use public lands. Most importantly, it has improved native plant cover and protected 8 important water resources for native wildlife across the North Rim. Our collaborative work has expanded, and this ongoing, small-scale effort is slowly but steadily working to improve landscape-scale climate resilience.

Co-producing actionable climate science and adaptation strategies for landscape assessment and planning on public lands
Tyler A. Beeton, North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center & Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University
  • Shannon M. McNeeley, North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center & Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University
  • Corrine N. Knapp, Western State Colorado University
  • Renée Rondeau, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University
  • Michelle Fink, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University
  • Karin Decker, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University
  • Lee Grunau, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University
  • Bruce Rittenhouse, Bureau of Land Management
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Many communities in the western United States depend on the health of public lands, and the ways they are managed by federal agencies for their livelihoods (e.g., ranching, recreation). Changes in weather, climate, and ecosystem services can further impact the health of public lands and can add complexity and uncertainty to decision-making. Understanding these linkages and impacts to social-ecological systems is critical to develop actionable climate adaptation strategies. In this presentation, we will present ongoing work with the Colorado Bureau of Land Management and multiple university and government partners to provide BLM land managers with the best available science on climate impacts and vulnerabilities, and co-produce actionable adaptation strategies that enhance species conservation, ecosystem health, and local livelihoods. Multiple, iterative meetings and workshops with social and environmental researchers and state- and local-level Colorado BLM staff, as well as interviews with BLM staff and public land-dependent community groups, have informed this process. To date, we have developed a state-wide social vulnerability assessment, an ecological vulnerability assessment, and a review of BLM planning documents, which was coupled with two in-depth vulnerability assessments in local field offices. We are using insights from this approach in collaboration with the San Luis Valley Field Office in Colorado to co-produce an integrated vulnerability assessment, co-determine actionable adaptation strategies that benefit multiple sectors, and inform their ongoing landscape planning efforts. We will focus our presentation on this co-production effort, illustrate results from the vulnerability assessments, and demonstrate how this work is, and will be, informing planning efforts.

Beyond forests: developing menus of adaptation strategies and approaches to address diverse planning needs
Kristen Schmitt, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
  • Chris Swanston, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
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Decision-support tools for climate change adaptation are often intended to be flexible and to accommodate a variety of management scales and scenarios. But how are these tools actually being used across different ecosystems and planning needs? We will discuss how the Forest Adaptation Resources (FAR) decision-support tool grew since it was first published in 2012 to address climate change planning and implementation in a variety of contexts. Starting with forests, the tool is now being used by managers working with forested watersheds, urban forests, wetlands, wildlife, recreation, coastal ecosystems, carbon stewardship, and with tribal partners. The FAR combines a multi-step process known as the Adaptation Workbook with “menus” of adaptation strategies and approaches to help land managers design and implement site-specific climate change adaptation actions. These menus can be modified to fit different sector-specific planning needs, while using a common decision-support process. An initial menu focused on forested ecosystems, however collaborators quickly became interested in developing additional menus for their systems of interest, leading to a current total of 4 published menus, 2 in review, and 4 in development. These menus are being used to design on-the-ground adaptation actions.

A Decision Support Framework for Integrating Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation into Natural Resource Planning
Jessi Kershner, EcoAdapt
  • Andrea Woodward, USGS
  • Alicia Torregrosa, USGS
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Increases in both discernible effects of climate change and accountability requirements for public land management decisions call for incorporating climate vulnerability and adaptation into natural resource management plans and projects. However, climate change vulnerability assessments and associated adaptation strategies are commonly generated at large spatial scales and identify adaptation options in general terms without guidance for choosing among options given specific circumstances. Meanwhile, land and resource management plans and projects often address smaller geographies, and management actions must address specific rather than general situations. This presentation will share a four-step decision support framework intended to help natural resource managers in applying regional vulnerability assessments and selecting appropriate adaptation strategies and actions for use in local plans and projects. The framework relies on integrating relevant climate information (e.g., climate change projections and vulnerability) with local knowledge to select the most suitable adaptation option for a given situation. Two case studies – one focused on public lands recreation and one focused on managing rangeland habitats – will highlight how the framework can be used to support natural resource planning.