Conservation in a Changing Climate
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The Climate of Conservation in America: 50 Stories in 50 States

Regional Climate Change Websites:

Pacific Region

Southwest Region

Midwest Region

Southeast Region

Northeast Region

Mountain-Prairie Region

Alaska Region

Pacific Southwest Region


**Shared Stories and Practices submissions can be sent to Christina Meister, USFWS Public Affairs, at


Shared Stories and Practices

Planning for Climate Change on the National Wildlife Refuge System

Planning for Climate Change on the National Wildlife Refuge System report cover. Credit: USFWSThe National Wildlife Refuge System is a network of lands and waters devoted to wildlife conservation. Spanning over 150 million acres, the System provides essential resources and protection for many of our nation's fish, wildlife and plants - many of which are susceptible to the negative impacts of climate change. The purpose of this document is to help Refuge System managers and planners prepare for these impacts and fulfill U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Interior mandates to incorporate climate change considerations into planning documents. Designed especially for Refuge System personnel and Service-oriented issues, this guide includes over 500 literature citations and went through extensive review within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partner organizations prior to production.

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Biological Carbon Sequestration Accomplishments Report: Tracking Service Success on Refuges

Biological Carbon Sequestration Accomplishments Report cover. Credit: USFWSBiological carbon sequestration can be an important tool for wildlife habitat creation and restoration. By building on opportunities and funding for sequestration activities, the Service can provide conservation gains through restoration and land protection while simultaneously reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This new report presents a compendium of carbon sequestration management and research activities on Refuge System lands and waters from 2009-2013.

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New Guide Provides Conservation Guidance in a Changing Climate

Climate Smart Conservation guide cover. Credit: NWF.orgThe Fish and Wildlife Service was pleased to be a member of the expert workgroup convened and led by the National Wildlife Federation that prepared the guide to climate smart conservation: Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice. The guide provides practical and straightforward advice on climate change adaptation planning, from identifying key management issues to developing and implementing sound adaptation actions, to monitoring the results.

News release from National Wildlife Federation
Climate-Smart Conservation guide online

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Natural Resources Management: Toolbox of Methods with Case Studies, v. 2.0

This document provides a non-comprehensive survey of some of the principle climate change vulnerability assessment methods in use today for species, habitats, places (e.g., protected areas, watersheds, landscapes), ecosystem processes, ecosystem services, water resources, and coastal resources. Case study examples are presented for as many of the methods as possible.

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States Confirm Commitment to Working Together to Address Climate Change

Climate change threatens coastal marshes, which provide clean water, groundwater recharge, and act as natural buffers against storms. Credit: Steve Hillebrand / USFWSAt the annual meeting of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies held September 11, 2013, state fish and wildlife agencies resolved to partner with the Service and others to develop and implement strategies to help our native fish, wildlife and habitats adapt to a changing climate.

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AFWA news release

Rising to the Challenge of Climate Change

Thumbnail of the 2012 Climate Adaptation Strategy. Credit: USFWSIn partnership with State and Tribal agencies, the Obama Administration today released 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.

News Release (DOI)
Strategy website
Watch our video
Download the full strategy

Collaborative Project Helps Address Climate Change Effects on T&E Species

American alligator. Credit: USFWSClimate envelope models are an important tool used in vulnerability assessments to help resource managers understand how plants and animals may respond to a changing climate. A collaborative project among the University of Florida, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and National Park Service incorporates habitat data and other kinds of information into the models to refine projections for future distributions of threatened and endangered species.

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Additional information

Seas Rising Faster Than Predictions

Flooded homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac. Credit: ©Associated Press / Gerald HerbertResearchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have concluded that Louisiana is in line for the highest rate of sea-level rise "on the planet."

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Building for the Future

Radke and Arizona Game and Fish Biologist Sharon Lashway working a pool in Rucker Creek. Photo Credit: USFWS / C. LohrengelIn the face of a changing climate and other landscape-scale stressors, Refuge Manager Bill Radke knows the future is now for threatened habitats.

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Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review

Difference from average annual temperature in 2012 compared to the 1981–2010 average. Map by NOAA team.The United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) releases its draft National Climate Assessment just a week after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirms the United States experienced its warmest year on record.

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Emerging Consensus Shows Climate Change Already Having Major Effects on Ecosystems and Species

Flock of birds. Credit: Steve Hillebrand USFWSPlant and animal species are shifting their geographic ranges and the timing of their life events – such as flowering, laying eggs or migrating – at faster rates than researchers documented just a few years ago, according to a technical report on biodiversity and ecosystems used as scientific input for the 2013 Third National Climate Assessment.

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Plant One for Ouachita Campaign Aims for One Million Trees in Louisiana

Aerial photo of Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWSThe Conservation Fund announced today it was on the verge of achieving of two spectacular milestones—the planting of its two millionth tree as part of its voluntary carbon offset program, Go Zero©, and a total of one million trees in the ground at Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Louisiana—all made possible via private donations.

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Keeping An Eye On Sea-level Rise

Scientists Dave O’Loughlin and Jeremy Schmid of Atkins Global, an engineering consulting firm, install a rod surface elevation table (RSET) benchmark at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, SC. The Southeast Region Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Network is monitoring marsh elevation at 18 coastal refuges.Marsh elevation is being monitored at 18 coastal refuges in the Southeast.

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CLIR Tool Calculates Refuge Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. © Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy/Nags Head Woods Chapter.When federal land managers assess greenhouse gas emissions on national wildlife refuges, national parks and other government-owned terrain, they generally don’t factor in visitor transportation.

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Buying Time Against Rising Seas

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. © Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy/Nags Head Woods Chapter.In what may be a first, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has attempted to reintroduce a federally listed plant at a higher elevation in the Florida Keys, for the express purpose of buying more time against the rising seas.

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At Arctic Refuge, Now Is the Time to Study Shorebirds

Pectoral sandpipers feed on a mudflat at Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The 19.3-million-acre refuge and its partners are putting considerable research effort into understanding shorebird populations and ecology. Credit: USFWSThe arctic environment, resilient in so many ways, is shifting. Climate change, being seen all over the globe, is moving twice as fast in northern Alaska. For David Payer, supervisory ecologist at the 19.3-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the potential for major environmental change in the future makes baseline research crucial now. Only by establishing a clear understanding of shorebird populations and ecology can the refuge staff know how habitats are changing and how to react.

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Alligator River NWR - An Adaptation Case Study

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. © Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy/Nags Head Woods Chapter.At Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on the North Carolina coast, the North Carolina chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have forged a partnership to evaluate the effects of different adaptation strategies on areas impacted (or likely to be impacted) by sea level rise.

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Wildlife Connections

Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone National Park  Credit: Terry Tollefsbol/USFWSAs human influence on the natural landscape increases, there is a growing need to secure opportunities for wildlife to move between large blocks of protected public land that provide valuable habitat for large mammals like the grizzly bear.

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Tide Returns to Nisqually Estuary

Nisqually estuary. Credit: USFWSEfforts to restore tidal wetlands in the Pacific Northwest's Nisqually Delta are a model for collaborative conservation.

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Red Knots, Horseshoe Crabs and Climate Change

Red knot. Credit: Greg Breese/USFWSNot far from the casinos of Atlantic City, a different kind of wager takes place each May along the shores of Delaware Bay. That’s when the red knot, a bird the size of a coffee cup, stakes its future on the ready abundance of eggs laid by tens of thousands of horseshoe crabs. Climate change could be a wild card in that future.

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Sobering Impacts

Cerulean warbler. Credit: WikipediaThe coffee we drink is intrinsically connected to the survival of a little blue songbird. The Cerulean Warbler winters in the forests of the northern Andes Mountains, many of which have been cleared for sun-grown coffee crops. The deforestation also contributes to global warming.

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Last updated: June 6, 2016
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