[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 13 (Friday, January 20, 2012)]
[Pages 2996-2998]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-1179]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R9-SATD-2011-N263; FXSC142009000009A-123-FF09S0000]

National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments; announcement of 
public workshops.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), along with 
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, Department 
of Commerce) and other Federal, State, and tribal partners, announce 
that we are seeking public comments and input regarding the draft 
National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy 
(Strategy). The purpose of the Strategy will be to inspire and enable 
natural resource professionals and other decision makers to take action 
to conserve the nation's fish, wildlife, plants, and ecosystem 
functions, as well as the human uses and values these natural systems 
provide, in a changing climate. In addition to this request for written 
comments, several public workshops will be conducted in order to 
provide additional opportunities for public involvement and discussion 
of the draft. The draft Strategy is available at the following link: 

DATES: Submitting Comments: To ensure that we are able to consider your 
comments, we must receive them by March 5, 2012 (see ADDRESSES).
    Public Workshops: Five workshops are being planned for the public. 
One workshop will be held in Washington, DC, and four additional 
workshops will be held at various regional venues around the country 
(Albany, NY; Charleston, SC; Madison, WI; and Sacramento, CA). Dates 
and addresses of the public workshops will be posted on the Strategy 
Web site (www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov) as they become available. 
For more details, see ADDRESSES.
    There will be two additional public workshops held as online web 
conferences or ``webinars,'' during which interested members of the 
public will be able to participate remotely. These web conferences will 
be held on January 26, 2012, and February 22, 2012.
    We request that all persons planning to attend a workshop in person 
or participate via a webinar register at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/public-workshops.php prior to the 
event. For more information or to register, please see ``IV., Meeting 
Participation Information,'' under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.
    Tribal Consultation Sessions: Eight Tribal consultation sessions 
are being planned for January and February 2012. These consultation 
sessions will be held in Anchorage, AK; Albany, NY; Albuquerque, NM; 
Charleston, SC; Madison, WI; Oklahoma City, OK; Sacramento, CA; and 
Shelton, WA. Dates and addresses for the tribal consultation sessions 
will be posted on the strategy Web site 
(www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov) as they become available.

ADDRESSES: Public Comments: To provide comments and feedback on the 
draft Strategy, please visit http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/public-comments.php. Alternatively, you may send comments by U.S. mail 
to the Office of the Science Advisor, Attn: National Fish, Wildlife, 
and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Shaffer, Office of the Science 
Advisor, at (703) 358-2603 (telephone) or 
wildlifeadaptationstrategy@fws.gov (email), or via the Strategy Web 
site at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/contact-us.php. If 
you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at (800) 877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In cooperation with NOAA and other Federal, 
State, and tribal partners, we are soliciting public comments on the 
draft National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy 
    The adverse impacts of climate change transcend political and 
administrative boundaries. No single entity or level of government can 
safeguard wildlife and society against the effects of climate change. 
When finalized, this draft Strategy will present a unified approach--
reflecting shared principles and science-based practices--for reducing 
the negative impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, plants, 
habitats, and our natural resource heritage. The Strategy will provide 
a basis for sensible actions that can be taken now, in spite of the 
uncertainties that exist about precise impacts of climate change. It 
also will provide guidance about what further actions are most likely 
to promote natural resource adaptation to climate change, and will 
describe mechanisms that will foster collaboration among all levels of 
government, conservation organizations, and private landowners.

I. Background

    Climate change affects more than temperature. According to the U.S. 
Global Change Research Program, impacts include shifts in rainfall and 
storm patterns, increasing wildfires, and more frequent water 
shortages, as well as rising sea levels, loss of sea ice, ocean 
acidification, and coastal flooding and erosion. Given the magnitude of 
the observed changes in climate, it is not surprising that fish, 
wildlife, and plant resources in the United States and around the world 
are already being affected. The impacts can be seen everywhere, from 
working landscapes like tree farms and pastures to wilderness areas far 
from human habitation. As the climate continues to change over the next 
century, so too will the effects on species, ecosystems, and their 
functions. Furthermore, climate-induced changes are also likely to 
exacerbate existing stresses like habitat loss and fragmentation, 
putting additional pressure on our nation's valued living resources.
    Rapid warming may also begin to threaten the benefits that natural 
systems provide to people and communities, creating new challenges for 
human health, infrastructure, agriculture, transportation, and energy 
supplies. At risk are clean air and water; flood and erosion control; 
natural resource jobs and income; hunting, fishing, and wildlife-
related recreation; and, ultimately, our quality of life.

[[Page 2997]]

    Most simply, climate adaptation means helping people and natural 
systems prepare for and cope with the effects of a changing climate. 
Climate adaptation is an essential complement to climate change 
mitigation, or efforts to decrease the rate and extent of climate 
change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions or enhancing carbon 
uptake and storage. Coordinated adaptation planning can help limit the 
damage climate change causes to our natural resources and communities, 
and will require new approaches, additional resources, and a 
coordinated approach across Federal, State, Tribal and local partners.

II. Strategy Development

    Over the past decade, there have been an increasing number of calls 
for action by government and nongovernmental entities to better 
understand, prepare for, and address the impacts of climate change on 
natural resources and the communities that depend on those resources. 
For example, in 2007 the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) 
released a study entitled ``Climate Change: Agencies Should Develop 
Guidance for Addressing the Effects on Federal Land and Water 
Resources,'' recommending that guidance and tools be developed to help 
Federal natural resource managers incorporate and address climate 
change in their resource management efforts. In 2008, the U.S. Global 
Change Research Program released the report ``Preliminary Review of 
Adaptation Options for Climate-Sensitive Ecosystems and Resources,'' 
which called for and identified a variety of new approaches to natural 
resource management to increase resiliency and adaptation of ecosystems 
and resources.
    In 2009, Congress asked the Department of the Interior (DOI) and 
the White House Council on Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) to 
develop a national, government-wide climate adaptation strategy for 
fish, wildlife, plants, and related ecological processes. Language in 
the Conference Report for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Interior, 
Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (House Report 111-
316, pages 76-77) urged CEQ and DOI to ``develop a national, 
government-wide strategy to address climate impacts on fish, wildlife, 
plants, and associated ecological processes'' and ``provide that there 
is integration, coordination, and public accountability to ensure 
efficiency and avoid duplication.'' In addition, CEQ's Interagency 
Climate Change Adaptation Task Force supported this request and called 
for the development of a climate adaptation strategy for fish, 
wildlife, and plants in its 2010 Progress Report to the President.
    In the fall of 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and CEQ 
invited NOAA and State wildlife agencies (with the New York Division of 
Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources as the State agencies' lead 
representative) to co-lead the development of the strategy. The 
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is also providing support 
through a cooperative agreement with the Service.
    Initial public outreach during 2009 and 2010 contributed toward 
developing the following set of key principles to help guide this 
effort as it moves forward:
     Build a national framework for cooperative climate 
     Respect jurisdictional authorities.
     Provide a blueprint for collective action that promotes 
collaboration and communication across government and non-government 
     Adopt a landscape/seascape-based approach that integrates 
best-available science and adaptive management.
     Focus actions and investments on natural resources of the 
United States and its Territories.
     Identify critical scientific and management needs.
     Engage the public.
     Integrate strategies for natural resources adaptation with 
those of other sectors such as transportation and agriculture.
     Identify opportunities to integrate climate adaptation and 
mitigation efforts.
     Act now: Time is of the essence.
    In late 2010, a diverse group of Federal, State, and tribal 
agencies were asked to participate as members of an intergovernmental 
Steering Committee, to provide advice and support for development of 
the Strategy. The Steering Committee includes representatives from 16 
Federal agencies with management authorities for fish, wildlife, 
plants, or habitat, as well as representatives from 5 State fish and 
wildlife agencies and two intertribal fish and wildlife commissions. 
The Steering Committee charged a small Management Team, made up of 
representatives of the FWS, NOAA, Association of Fish and Wildlife 
Agencies (on behalf of the States), the Great Lakes Indian Fish and 
Wildlife Commission, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to oversee the 
day-to-day development of the Strategy. The Management Team was asked 
to engage with a diverse group of stakeholders, as well as to 
coordinate and communicate across agencies and departments.
    In March of 2011, the Management Team invited more than 90 natural 
resource professionals (both researchers and managers) from Federal, 
State, and tribal agencies to form five Technical Teams based around 
major U.S. ecosystems (marine, coastal, inland waters, forest, and 
combined grasslands/shrublands/deserts/tundra systems). These Teams, 
which were co-chaired by Federal, State, and tribal representatives, 
worked approximately 7 months to provide technical information on 
climate change impacts and to collectively develop strategies and 
actions for adapting to climate change.
    We initially requested public comments and input on the development 
of the Strategy in a May 24, 2011, notice of intent in the Federal 
Register (76 FR 30193). After we incorporated initial input, in 
November 2011 we requested comments on a preliminary draft of the 
Strategy from selected Federal, State, and Tribal agencies.
    We now open the public comment period (see DATES). After 
considering and incorporating comments from the public, we anticipate 
releasing a revised, final Strategy by early summer 2012.
    Key milestones are shown below:

 Outreach and Engagement Sessions--2009/2010
 Steering Committee Formed--December 2010
 Technical Teams Established--February 2011
 Agency Review Draft Circulated--November 2011
 Public Review Draft Announced--January 2012
 Release Final Strategy--May/June 2012

    Ultimately, the Strategy will be a blueprint for common action that 
outlines needed scientific support, policy, and legal frameworks; 
recommended management practices; processes for integration and 
communication; and a framework for implementing these approaches. It 
will enable national and international conservation communities to 
harness collective expertise, authority, and skills in order to define 
and prioritize a shared set of conservation goals and objectives.

III. Request for Public Comments

    Public involvement is critical for the development of a robust and 
relevant response to the impacts of climate change. Particularly 
valuable to the effort are public guidance on priorities, 
recommendations for approaches, and suggestions based on local 
knowledge and experience.

[[Page 2998]]

    Initial outreach and planning for the Strategy began in 2009 and 
early 2010, with a number of listening and engagement sessions, as well 
as several Conservation Leadership Forums. More information about past 
engagement efforts, as well as upcoming meetings and engagement 
opportunities, is available at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/participate.php.
    We will be accepting public comments through our Web site until the 
date specified in DATES. We will also accept verbal and written 
comments at upcoming public review workshops (see ADDRESSES).
    We encourage the public to submit comments and input on the draft 
Strategy. The comments that are most useful are those that you support 
by quantitative information or studies and those that include citations 
and analyses of applicable laws and regulations. Please make your 
comments as specific as possible and explain the basis for them. In 
addition, please include sufficient information with your comments to 
allow us to authenticate any scientific or commercial data you include.
    You must submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed above in the ADDRESSES section. We will not accept comments sent 
to an address not listed in ADDRESSES.
    We are committed to transparency in developing and implementing the 
National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy. The 
Service, NOAA, and other partners will also actively engage interested 
parties, including, as appropriate, State, Tribal, and local 
authorities; regional governance structures; academic institutions; 
nongovernmental organizations; recreational interests; and private 

IV. Meeting Participation Information

    Several public workshops will be held around the country, as 
described in ADDRESSES. These workshops will provide interested members 
of the public the opportunity to learn more about the development and 
goals of the Strategy, ask questions, and provide their public comments 
verbally or in writing. If you wish to attend one of these workshops in 
person, please register online prior to the workshop through our Web 
site at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/public-workshops.php.
    There will also be two additional public workshops that will be 
held as an online web conference or ``webinar'' (see DATES). Interested 
members of the public will be able to participate remotely, including 
viewing a presentation and contributing questions and comments. For 
more information or to register for the web conference, please visit 
our Web site at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/public-workshops.php.
    Please visit the Strategy Web site at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov for additional background on the 

V. Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

VI. Authority

    Conference Report for the Interior, Environment and Related 
Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010.

Gabriela Chavarria,
Science Advisor to the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-1179 Filed 1-19-12; 8:45 am]