Conservation in a Changing Climate
Northeast Region
 

Climate Change in the Northeast: 
Contents

  1. National Environmental Policy Act
  2. The Use of Models
  3. Planning Tools
  4. Spatial and Interactive Tools
  5. Managing Cultural Resources

To view the powerpoint presentations from these sessions, please visit our Conference Powerpoints page.

June 4, 2008

Concurrent Session 2A
National Environmental Policy Act

Analyzing Climate Change Impacts in NEPA Analyses, Michael D. Smith, Ph.D., ICF International

Notes:

There is an acceptance that climate change is happening and the science information is available.  The US Supreme Court agrees that NEPA must be done.

“Changing”Climate for Climate Change

  • Increased media attention can be documented in press articles, billboards and even 1979 DOE statement.
  • Increased legal activity (NEPA cases and Supreme Ct decision that EPA must regulate CO2)
  • ESA polar bear listing
  • Increased science studies
  • Increased amount of state, local and international activity (IPCC reports important for NEPA)

Key Issues for NEPA – what will the impacts be in North America

US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) located in White House Office of Science and Technology.  Identified vulnerabilities and consequences of Climate Change (Food, water, ecosystems).

California has been documenting and forecasting climate change for awhile.  Entire water infrastructure is based on Sierra snowpack

New York Climate and Health Effects – Ozone formation

US CCSP (http://www.globalchange.gov/) producing SAPs (Synthesis and Assessment Products) which will be important for NEPA (e.g., 4.1 coastal impacts, 4.4 climate sensitive ecosystems which include parks).  SAPs provide policy recommendations, such as 80% reduction by year 2050 of CO2 emissions (this target is also included in Lieberman Warner Bill and presidential candidates stump speeches).

Draft 1997 CEQ Guidance Document on Climate Change.  Once thought to be a mythical document, is now starting to show up again.  Signed in the late days of the Clinton Administration by then CEQ Director Kathy McGinty.  Guidance states that existing NEPA regulations do not need to be amended to deal with climate change because climate is just another resource to be dealt with.  In 1997, it went through interagency review but then disappeared.

The only official NEPA documents are found in NEPA litigation.

EPA EIS comment letters will/are including comments that climate change needs to be addressed

Feb 28, 2008 Formal Legal Petition to CEQ from NRDC, Sierra Club and International Center for Tech Assmt.  This formal legal document is basically an outline of how to sue a federal agency over climate change and the petitioners request CEQ guidance memos

Existing NEPA regs talk about cumulative impacts, impacts in terms of context and intensity and 10 criteria for consideration of significance

There is no official guidance but approaches

  • no single best method
  • each approach has advantages and disadvantages
  • best guidance coming out of CEQA analysis process in CA

There was a question regarding Prescribed Fires, which are typically CatEx, will that continue?  Don’t know!  Answer was that we are in  a window of time where there is no guidance. Maybe 1 to 2 years there will be some type of cap and trade program which will make the life of NEPA people easier

Review of Emission Inventory Tools and Resources

  • inventory tools such as NOnroad 2007 (e.g., snowmobile emissions)
  • Resources for Methods
    • California Association of Environmental Professionals (CA AEP) developed 2007 white paper on CEQA practices which include 6-7 approacheds
    • CAPCOA 2007 white paper also includes approaches for dealing with NEPA and climate change

Key Issues

  • Need for NEPA documents for global climate change including CEQ, DOI, NPS, USFS (NPS EQD working on it, DOI working on it, USFS guidance shortly)
  • Protocol on how to plan project in a non-static environment i.e., within context of climate change
  • We can’t afford to ignore this as an agency.  Going beyond science and changing institutional thinking at all levels.  Changing the thinking of the maintenance person and the person who jumps in the pick-up truck every morning.  Making a bridge from science to daily operations
  • Where is the point of entry?  The NEPA process
  • Ambiguity of quantifying indirect actions e.g., fishermen access to fishing areas.  Attempt to create a number in some logical way.  Say we can’t quantify but will attempt to qualify
  • Climate change is the perfect issue to address at the Programmatic Level.  For example, the EIS for a GMP – quantify emissions of GMP, mitigate some/all/none of the emissions, and then you would be covered for future EIs, EAs
  • CO2 only one portion of GHG emissions that need to be considered (e.g., methane)

Institutional Tools

  • Agencies need to provide guidance.  CEQ needs to provide guidance.  Update 1997 draft CEQ guidance on Climate Change
  • Be aware of current legal actions – court decisions will provide guidance
  • There will be some type of CO2 regulation, either through Lieberman-Warner Bill or through EPA and the court decision that EPA must regulate CO2.  Either way a cap and trade program will be established and will make the life of NEPA easier (in terms of CO2)

Challenges

  • No clear guidance from the national level or agency level at this time
  • Overwhelming! 

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Concurrent Session 2B
The Use of Models

The Use of Models to Adapt to Climate Change, Hector Galbraith, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Dennis Ojima, The John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment

Notes:

What are the key issues from this session?

Dennis Ojima
1.  Global climate change impacts

  • Warming greatest at high latitudes
  • Changes in temperature, sea level, snow cover
  • Models diverge considerably at 2100, but little, if any, differences in scenarios for next 20-30 years

2.  Issues related to ecological forecasting and adaptive management schemes

  • Multiple stresses
  • Multiple scales of space-time-biota (global to genes)
  • Well-tested modeling frameworks
  • Complex adaptive systems of the coupled human-environmental system

3.  Modeling and decision making

  • Role of modeling: system analysis, decision support, scenario framing
  • How we assess vulnerability: scenario development, sensitivity analyses, critical response analysis, adaptive capacity assessment, metric development
  • Adaptation design: local level, socio-ecological systems, scenarios using downscaling techniques, risk assessments, capacity
  • Decision making framework: policy, land use, adaptation strategies, coping tactics, etc.

Hector Galbraith
1.  What we know

  • Climate is changing
  • Climate change is already affecting ecological systems: range shifts, phenologies, population and community changes, extinctions (5-37%)
  • All this with less than 1°C change
  • Projections over next century are for 3-5°C

2.  Commitment to warming and adaptation

  • Continued warming over next few decades
  • Most scientists recognize 2° will bring major changes
  • Mitigation (emissions control) is not the entire solution – have to adapt

3.  Adaptation questions

  • Which ecosystems/sites are vulnerable?
  • Ecological trajectories under climate change?
  • Interaction with other stressors?
  • How well do traditional conservation tools work?
  • How do we avoid cures as bad as the illness?

4.  Adaptation Approaches

  • California adaptation planning case study: project effect of climate change on California biomes and include other stressors (urban sprawl)
  • Manomet, DWF, TNC collaborative adaptation project in MA: planning and implementing adaptation to climate change in MA

5.  Last words on adaptation

  • Nothing is for sure – need to remain flexible and creative
  • Face up to tough choices – what gets thrown off the raft
  • Seek win-win solutions
  • Already practicing many approaches – intensify!

Can you identify action items and any institutional changes/connections/tools needed to accomplish them?

Generally addressed through all of the key points above.

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Concurrent Session 2C
Planning Tools

Planning Tools: Scenario Planning and Adaptive Management, Leigh Welling, Bert Frost, Holly Hartman

Notes:

Intent:

  1. Bring different tools into planning process
  2. Focus on Adaptive Management and Scenario Planning
  3. Exercise at end

General Concept:

Controlability versus Uncertainty – four quadrants to chart.  Lower left = controllable and little uncertainty; lower right = little control and little uncertainty; upper left = controllable but uncertain; upper right = little control and uncertain

Adaptive management is where there is control but uncertainty exists (upper left).  Scenario planning is where there is little control and much uncertainty (upper right).

Bert Frost:

Mitigation versus adaptation.  Mitigation = reduce or eliminate climate change related issue.  Adaptation = Coping with consequences of climate change.

Climate change --> focus on adaptation and adaptive management

Adaptation and adaptive management are not the same.  Both are objective driven, but adaptation involves coping versus re-educating management (improving management).

Adaptive management process:
Set Goal --> Make decision --> Monitor --> Assess situation --> Re-inform decision

 

Setup (identify):
Stake Holders
Objectives
Potential Management Objectives
Management Action Projections
Protocols and Plans

 

Iterative phase:
Set Goal --> Make decision --> Monitor --> Assess situation --> Re-inform decision

For Climate Change, impacts are unknown, resources are limited

  • Build on past
  • Recognize present
  • Plan for future

Learn as we go and manage based on what we learn

Questions:
Q:Is it important to consider both spatial as well as temporal scales during planning?
A: Yes, NPS tries to consider appropriate scales.  Need to seek ways of integrating information that exists in different scales.  For example, planning that occurs on 10 year cycles should inform planning that operates on longer cycles.
Q: Has adaptive management been officially adopted.
A: Yes, DOI has a manual on adaptive management.
Q: Knowledge of climate change is fast moving and new knowledge may be gained faster than management cycles
A: True, Assessment cycle is intended to incorporate new knowledge.

Holly Hartman:
Adaptive Management is not enough for Climate Control because little control exists.  Scenario planning does NOT involve generating predictions or forecasts.  Scenario planning is a process of generating possible outcomes (stories) and developing
a list of things that can be done regardless of what actually happens.  Not predictive, but a way of developing evolutionary options giving managers the ability to react to different outcomes.

  • Identify context
    • Focal issue
    • Uncertainties
    • Consider views of key actors

 

Build scenarios

  • ID external drivers
  • ID internals
  • ID potential impacts
  • Build story lines

During assessment
Test
Is it plausible?
Look for patterns (trends, thresholds, cascading events)
Distinguis high versus low certainties

Traps in assessments

  • Avoid focusing too close
  • Models can be too cautious or too extreme
  • Intensification of the present (look beyond present)

Questions:
Q: How are scenario factors weighted?
A: It’s part of the creative process.  Once all factors are identified look for things that make biggest difference.  Details are very subjective.  Rely on best available science.  Gaps will exist and can be filled with judgement.

Q: Cautionary note – Iteration takes energy.
A: Yes, it can happen that initial plan get’s set and iterative process doesn’t occur.  It takes energy for this to work.

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Concurrent Session 2D
Spatial and Interactive Tools

Adapting to Changes: Ecological Land Use mapping tool, Mark Anderson
Modeling River systems, Mark Smith
Climate Wizard (Beta release for this tool), Terry Cook

Notes:

* Need strategies to protect all species, not individuals. Look at the setting of the play, not just the individual actors (analogy) – geophysical features are consistent, but species composition will change.
* There are multiple severe and unpredictable threats – learn from management mistakes and change procedures (adapt).
* Tool defines areas based on bedrock types, elevation zones, longitude, hardiness zone, calcareous substrates => significant relationships for area specific species richness predictions.
* Promote system dynamics that allow for change, nurture renewal opportunities (healthy soil conditions and functional hydrologic systems).
* Promote connectivity over large scales.
* Need to make data available to the public and other agencies for broad use.

Mark Smith – Modeling River systems

* Need to include freshwater in GCC talks – Oceans and shoreline change has dominated to date, need to spend more effort looking at river and stream systems.
* GCC impacts may force building of more dams, e.g. for energy alternatives and flood control.
* Contributions of materials to river systems: small headwaters, meanders, floodplains, terraces, riparian wetlands => active river area concepts.
* Put science in form that managers can understand and use.
* Need to maintain undeveloped areas, protect bottomlands, restore streams, acquire wetland buffer zones.
* work with non-traditional partners, e.g. corps of engineers, for protection alternatives.

Terry Cook – Climate Wizard (Beta release for this tool)

* Tool for non-climate scientists to understand rate and types of change.
Global climate change models are coarse, need to downscale and provide multiple scenarios.
* Tool allows user to select regional types, e.g. ecoregions or congressional districts (regions of interest to user).

General discussion:
* need unfiltered science to guide decisions.
* agencies have wanted to act regarding GCC for a long time – this is an important juncture in time as we now have the opportunity.
* NPS idea – look at how individual parks fit into regional continuums.
* FWS – focused on trust species, this makes it difficult to manage on a broader scale.
* Planning is happening so rapidly now that it is difficult to get information to all levels, e.g. getting efforts from the top down to field personnel.
Full Notes

Spatial and Interactive Tools for Decision Support – TNC Tools

Mark Anderson – Adapting to Changes: Ecological Land Use mapping tool

~13,500 species (flora and fauna), 500 vulnerable
* Need strategies to protect all species, not individuals. Look at the setting of the play, not just the individual actors (analogy) – geophysical features are consistent, but species composition will change.
There are multiple severe and unpredictable threats – learn from management mistakes and change procedures (adapt).
Tool defines areas based on bedrock types, elevation zones, longitude, hardiness zone, calcareous substrates => significant relationships for area specific species richness predictions.
Cover all areas as regions using settings and gradients to produce principles of network resilience.
Ecoregion tool online available as a tool, includes metadata.
Allow for change, nurture renewal opportunities (healthy soil conditions and functional hydrologic systems).
Maintain biodiversity.
Promote connectivity over large scales.
Map produced of public/private protected lands across northeast region.
Capitalizes on FIA data, which is now more broadly available. (Feds need to make data useable).
600-700 spp. per bedrock type
Species richness may increase with temperature increase.

 

Mark Smith – Modeling River systems

Need to include freshwater in GCC talks – Oceans and shoreline change has dominated to date, need to spend more effort looking at river and stream systems.
GCC impacts may force building of more dams, e.g. for energy alternatives and flood control.
White paper available regarding active river areas.
Put science in form that managers can understand and use.
Contributions of materials to river systems: small headwaters, meanders, floodplains, terraces, riparian wetlands => active river area concepts.
Need to maintain undeveloped areas.
Identify active river area at watershed and regional scale ~ often similar to FEMA floodplain.
Need to protect bottomlands, restore streams, acquire wetland buffer zones.
Look at connected networks = miles of river without dams.
Rolling easements for coastal and river shorelines.
*work with odd partners, e.g. corps of engineers, for protection alternatives.
- non-traditional alliances
- natural flood controls
Tool for monitoring over time – periodic inundation, water rights and management, hydrologic baseline.
Predicts areas that could support floodplain forests – needs groundtruthing.

 

Terry Cook – Climate Wizard (Beta release for this tool)

Tool for non-climate scientists to understand rate of change.
Global climate change models are coarse, need to downscale and provide multiple scenarios.
Specific geographical areas.
Wide range of climate data.
Address relevant questions.
Can define a polygon or upload shapefiles into tool.
Can select regional types, e.g. ecoregions or congressional districts (regions of interest to user).
High to low emission model trends produced.
Produces potential vegetative change, habitat types (biome level), confidence bands.
*need unfiltered science to guide decisions.
*agencies have wanted to act regarding GCC for a long time – this is an important juncture in time as we now have the opportunity.
NPS idea – look at how individual parks fit into regional continuums.
FWS – focused on trust species, this makes it difficult to manage on a broader scale.
FWS and state FWS’s are linking to avoid duplication of tasks.
Planning is happening so rapidly that it is difficult to get information to all levels, e.g. getting efforts from the top down to field personnel.

 

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Concurrent Session 2E
Managing Cultural Resources

Climate Change and Cultural Resources, Dr. Daniel Odess, National Park Service

Notes:

Intro by Andy Raddant

Session deals with archeological sites, historic structures and cultural landscapes.  All subject to CC. 
Will not deal with Resilience of existing communities or sustainability of cultures or communities or indigenous knowledge. 

Primary Threats to Cultural Resources:
-Rising Sea Level: what the ocean wants the ocean takes.  You can mitigate and limit as in the Netherlands but threats remain and inundation continues.  Archeological sites along coast of N.A. contain much information but most are highly vulnerable. Arctic sites recently in tact have now been destroyed.  Our maritime cultural sites and relationships are threatened.  Tidal zone resources are all at risk: sea coast, bays, rivers.  What would a ten foot rise in sea level mean?  (SLR is not consistent from coast to inland areas due to amplification of tides: not a 1:1 relationship; may amplify or may dampen.  What would a storm surge do moving up the Hudson?  Communities have not begun to grapple with this.

-Extreme Weather Events: Katina brought this home to the average person.  Emerging issues regarding flood insurance in areas where it hadn’t been a concern previously.

-Loss of Cryosphere: Ice provided a phasing of seasonal changes effecting micro climate and plant growth.  E.g., Bison hunting in relation to grass lands near ice patches.  The natural freezers rich in cultural resources.  More than stone: clothing, wood, leather etc. preserved unlike in warmer climates.  Example: Ice Man of the Italian/Swiss Alps found with remarkable detail of cultural materials.  Questions such as period of transition between throwing spears and bows/arrows.  Archeological sites contain an enormous amount of information about the natural world through flora and faunal remains at dated sites.  Emphasis: the cross benefits between archeology and natural sciences. 

-Increased Erosion: Changes in timing of melt, quality of snow pack, vegetation etc.

-Increased Fire Activity: Increases in frequency and intensity.  Effects vary as the result of burn overs.  Some degree of “improved visibility” but the intensity due to fuel loads has led to complete loss of organic artifacts, damage to stone tools, impairment of historic fire record v. wild fire.  Depth of impact varies depending on moisture content and type of resouces.  Can damage through tree throws and root burns, etc.

-Falling Lake Levels: Canoes sunk along lake shores 1,000 to 3,000 BCE.  Policies in FL not to excavate but now drying is exposing the resources in great numbers.  In Great Lakes the Voyagers would do the same and they are also emerging. 

Secondary Threats
-Dislocated/Relocated Humans: Moving to areas with Cultural Resouces previously isolated. 

-Lack of Funding: We currently spend about 15% of Federal budget on discretionary spending shrinking down to c.12% over next five years resulting in decreases for NPS, F&W ect.  Add to this the pressures and added demands from things like relocation of human communities. 

-Lack of Planning: CRM tends to be reactive.  E.g., Congressman wants a particular lighthouse moved to save it.  Priorities get set in ad hoc manner rather than a comprehensive planning approach.  We are not controlling our own destiny.

-Failure to Prioritize: Levels of evaluation regarding determinations of eligibility, registration, etc. but we do not have a process of setting priorities.  There will never be the money needed for any degree of comprehensive protection.  Even things that are very worthy of protection may not be able to be saved.  E.g., Forts Jefferson and Sumpter.  We need to take a look and ask what will the state of these sites be in 20 or 30 years.  Are they defencable?  Who will tell the Congressman “No, we can’t do this.”?

How Do Cultural Resources Differ From Natural Resources?

-Generally, fixed in place.  They can’t migrate.  Historic structures can be moved with difficulty but as a general rule relocation is not a viable strategy for preservation. 

-Can’t Repoduce: No matter how long you leave them alone together they will not multiply. 

-One of a kind generally.  They all tell a different part of our national story. 

-Will not rebound when conditions improve: once destroyed they will not return. 

Some Modest Suggestions

-Prioritize and Rationalize: We Cannot Save It All.  Select priorities for protection and documentation. 

-Identify Data Gaps and Work to Fill Them:  We are losing resources that we have no understanding of whatsoever.  We need to identify the gaps by surveying the field.  At current rates it will take 300 years before we even look at all federal acreage.  Need to reexamine the entire national range to set true national priorities not based on established regional administration. 

-Monitoring Aggressively: Need policies that promote regular and comprehensive monitoring. 

-Partner to Mitigate: NPS policy to avoid archeological excavation but we could work more closely with Universities and other partners to proceed with mitigation.  (Mitigation meaning in this context vs. natural resources: how do you respond to actions that will damage the resource?  Documentation, protecting?  Used in response to specific threats.)

Needs for Moving Forward

-Spatial Data Sets, e.g., 3 Meter LIDAR.  Need best available date.  Acquisition of high resolution data should be priority for agencies in order to prioritize needs.

-GIS Support: Lacking in many instances.  CRM needs to cooperate with other agencies that already have the capabilities but need to integrate the CR data.  All planning uses the GIS data.  Due to lack of funding, leadership, prioritization.  Generally not part of the CRM approach. 

-Leadership: Need to push things forward in all federal agencies to make sure CR is included in planning, budgets, legislation.  We need it to provide perspective so that they can see the big picture.  Must overcome the localized decision making that fails to equate relative merits.  A system of prioritization should extend across bureau boundaries.  Example of AK F&W which is largest management agency in the state has only one archeologist. 

-Need a system for determination of significance.  Who does this.  Need to involve the related communities.  Question: How does our understanding of significance change over time and who make those determinations?  Also, what about decreases in significance over time given the legislative process of establishing parks.

-Systems for Setting Priorities.

-Dedicated Funding: Cost of doing business just from rising fuel costs.  How are we dealing with 30% rise in travel costs?   NPS Centennial Challenge will not result in real increase.  Must figure out ways to manage more efficiently and set priorities.

-Planning and Communication:  Benefits at meetings like this is learning about what others are doing and opportunities for sharing and contributing to each others efforts.  Finally we need to work on planning that allows us to make better decisions. 

Main Action Item:  Need to promote cross institutional and discipline work.  It is a leadership and cultural issue.  We would all benefit from being encouraged to cross boundaries.  Also need more conferences like this to integrate knowledge and coordinate efforts.   

 

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For a disk with many of these presentations, contact
Richard O. Bennett, Ph.D.
Regional Science Advisor
Northeast Region
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Last updated: December 16, 2011