The Wilderness Act and Climate Change Adaptation

By Long, Elisabeth; Biber, Eric | Environmental Law, Spring 2014 | Go to article overview

The Wilderness Act and Climate Change Adaptation


Long, Elisabeth, Biber, Eric, Environmental Law


C. Restraint

Restraint means "selecting certain areas in which no interventions will occur," or more simply: "leav[ing] some places alone." (273) Many legal scholars have argued that the restrictive constraints of the Wilderness Act are beneficial because the most appropriate management choice for wilderness areas is a hands-off, passive management regime. (274) Likewise, some ecologists argue that in the "rare cases when managers might have the ability to affect every part of a wilderness landscape, strong consideration should be given to restraint." (275)

1. Passive Management in Wilderness Areas Allows for Adaptation.

One argument for restraint is that purely passive management in wilderness areas will assist with adaptation to climate change. For instance, roadless areas, including wilderness areas, benefit watershed health. (276) Road construction damages water quality by increasing sedimentation, and existing roads concentrate and reroute water flow during times of precipitation, thereby affecting subsurface water availability by decreasing the amount of porous land available for water absorption. (277) Improved watershed health, in turn, benefits fish species. (278) As climate change affects water temperature and dissolved oxygen levels, fish populations will increasingly depend on high-quality habitat in wilderness areas. (279) Indeed, Colorado's native cutthroat trout already heavily rely on intact habitat in roadless areas for survival. (280)

Passive management in wilderness areas may also be an important tool to protect biodiversity in a changing climate. Wilderness areas provide habitat for threatened and endangered plant and animal species. (281) They will become increasingly important as species migrations and extinctions associated with climate change increase. (282) A 2009 review of recommendations for biodiversity management in the face of climate change found that the most frequent recommendation for climate change adaptation of the surveyed scientific literature is to improve landscape connectivity to facilitate species migration. (283) This goal could be achieved by acquiring new protected lands adjacent to wilderness areas to serve as migration corridors that facilitate species movement spurred by climate change. Managers could also work across wilderness boundaries to designate migration corridors that cover a range of elevations and land designations and ownerships. One example of lands that may be suitable for management as migration corridors are Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs) on Forest Service lands, which are frequently located next to wilderness areas. (284) IRAs comprise more low- and mid-elevation habitat than wilderness areas and therefore may provide connected habitat over a wide elevation range. (285)

More generally, one of the best strategies to allow biodiversity to adapt to a changing climate is to simply protect more habitat from human intervention. Authors in the climate change adaptation literature

encourage managers to increase the number of reserves across the landscape; improve interagency and regional coordination; protect larger areas and reserve size; create and manage buffer zones around reserves; and capture landscape and bioclimatic diversity in protected areas. (286) Likewise, researchers discuss the possibility of responding to climate change by identifying, acquiring, and protecting refugia, defined as environments that are "more buffered against climate change and short-term disturbances." (287) One study suggests that if refugia can be identified, "they could be considered sites for long-term retention of plants or for establishment of new forests." (288) Similarly, many studies recommend protecting areas projected to be future "hotspots for biodiversity" in order to provide habitat for species of high conservation value. (289) Wilderness without active management already provides vital reserves from human intervention that help achieve these goals. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Wilderness Act and Climate Change Adaptation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.