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Regional science efforts highlighted in national climate adaptation strategy progress report

Report includes several projects in the northeast and the Chesapeake Bay among 50 nationwide examples that illustrate a long-term vision for adaptive management in the face of climate change.

In partnership with state agencies and federal partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a progress report describing nationwide efforts to reduce impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, and plants. The report follows up on the publication in March 2013 of the agency’s National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy.

Titled “Taking Action,” the report includes several projects in the northeast and the Chesapeake Bay among 50 nationwide examples that illustrate a long-term vision for adaptive management in the face of climate change.

From rising sea levels to increasing storm frequency, the impacts of climate change occur at vast temporal and spatial scales, threatening human communities, wildlife habitats and natural benefits such as storm protection, food production and clean water. Featured projects in the report demonstrate how landscape conservation planning and design supports collaboration across broad geographic areas, informing management strategies at multiple scales.

Specific projects highlighted in the report include:

The White Mountains to Moosehead Lake Initiative

Project background - Encompassing waterways that support wild native Eastern brook trout, endangered Atlantic salmon, wetland complexes, dramatic high elevation ridge-lines and mountain peaks, this 2.7 million acre area stretching from northern New Hampshire to western Maine represents a critical wildlife corridor and refuge for native species in the face of climate change.

Adaptive approach - The initiative creates a GIS-based framework for identifying prime candidates for conservation easements, including a parcel-level analysis to designate priority areas based on their value for climate resilience as part of a contiguous habitat.

Restoring Aquatic Connectivity and Increasing Flood Resilience

Project background – Intense, sustained rainfall from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee tested the limits of road culverts in the mountains of New York and New England, underscoring the need for a science-based approach to flood resilience in anticipation of increasing storm severity.

Adaptive approach - The project supports use of existing data and models to predict future storm discharge, pinpoint flood risks, prioritize sites for restoring river ecosystems and processes, and improve passage for river herring and American eel.

Habitat Model for Winter Black Ducks

Project background - The Chesapeake Bay provides important wintering grounds for black ducks. Without a meaningful understanding of the extent to which black ducks use this habitat, however, sea-level rise and development present a serious and unquantifiable threat.

Adaptive approach - Use of a bioenergetics model (based on food-web interactions) to determine the amount of viable black-duck habit in the Chesapeake Bay, quantify the potential impacts of sea-level rise on this species, and prioritize restoration areas across the refuge.

The progress report spotlights the leading role Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) are playing in implementing adaptation efforts, including a project underway in the Appalachian LCC to identify and map forests and streams that serve as essential buffer against climate impacts within a large, dynamic landscape.   

In addition to supporting projects cited in the report, the North Atlantic LCC is playing a direct role in bolstering climate adaptation strategy through its involvement with Hurricane Sandy resilience projects. Through this effort, partners are developing decision-support tools to understand the threats posed by sea-level rise and storms to specific species and habitats, such as migratory shorebirds and saltmarshes.

The North Atlantic LCC’s landscape conservation design approach also is exemplified in a pilot effort in the Connecticut River watershed, where partner agencies and organizations are using the best available science to set and achieve conservation goals for fish and wildlife in the context of climate change and land-use pressures.

To review or download the full report, visit http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/pdf/Taking-Action-progress-report-2014.pdf



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