Integrating Climate Change into Northeast and Midwest State Wildlife Action Plans
The Department of Interior Northeast Climate Science Center (NE CSC) conducts research that responds to the regional natural resource management community's needs to anticipate, monitor, and adapt to climate change. The NE CSC is supported by a consortium of partners that includes the University of Massachusetts Amherst, College of Menominee Nation, Columbia University, Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri Columbia, and University of Wisconsin. The NE CSC also engages and collaborates with a diversity of other federal, state, academic, tribal, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to conduct collaborative, stakeholder-driven, and climate-focused work. The State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) are revised every 10 years; states are currently working towards a target deadline of October 2015. SWAP coordinators have been challenged to incorporate climate change impacts and species responses into their current revisions. This synthesis was intended to inform the science going into Northeast and Midwest SWAPs across the 22 states ranging from Maine to Virginia, and Minnesota and Missouri in the eastern United States. It is anticipated that this synthesis will help guide SWAP authors in writing specific sections, help revise and finalize existing sections, or be incorporated as an appendix or addendum. The purpose of this NE CSC-led cooperative report is to provide a synthesis of what is known and what is uncertain about climate change and its impacts across the NE CSC region, with a particular focus on the responses and vulnerabilities of Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need (RSGCN) and the habitats they depend on. Another goal was to describe a range of climate change adaptation approaches, processes, tools, and potential partnerships that are available to State natural resource managers across the Northeast and Midwest. Through illustrative case studies submitted by the NE CSC and partners, we demonstrate climate change adaptation efforts being explored and implemented across local and large-landscape scales. This document is divided into four sections and addresses the following climate and management relevant questions: 1. Regional climate changes: How is the climate changing and projected to change across the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States? 2. Regional species and habitats at greatest risk and most vulnerable to climate impacts: What are the relative vulnerabilities of fish and wildlife species as well as their habitats to climate change? 3. Biological responses to climate impacts with a focus on Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need (RSGCN): How are threatened fish and wildlife likely to respond or adapt to climate change? 4. Scale-appropriate adaptation strategies and actions: What approaches, strategies, and actions could be taken to sustain fish, wildlife and their habitats in the short and long term? The outline and content for this document were developed with input from State Coordinators, members of the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, DOI Northeast Climate Science Center affiliated researchers, and other partners including the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and The Nature Conservancy. Terwilliger Consulting, Inc., was especially instrumental in helping connect and coordinate the authors of this report with State representatives through conference calls and email surveys to develop the most needed and effective information for current SWAP revisions. On a final note, the SWAPs are living documents that can be added to and evolve on timescales beyond the 10-year revision cycle. The development of this report was timed such that SWAP coordinators and writers would have sufficient time to implement this input before their October deadline. However, this document is also meant to serve as a starting point for coordinated and collaborative climate science and adaptation across the region; the NE CSC endeavors to continue to provide actionable science during the coming years in collaboration with its diverse federal, state, NGO, and academic partners.