American wildlife will need a lot of human help to get through
the coming era of climate change, from controlling invasive
competitors to creating natural escape corridors via conserved,
And the nation's resource agencies need to improve their
coordination starting now, with emphasis on critically important
steps that can be taken in the next five years.
So says the National Climate Adaptation Strategy issued Tuesday.
Two years in the making, it's a consensus roadmap built by an
unusual collaborative of state, tribal and federal wildlife
agencies, assisted by scientific, educational and conservation
In all, the authors say, some 55,000 individual Americans have
contributed to this "first nationwide, joint adaptation strategy by
the three levels of government that have primary authority and
responsibility for the living natural resources of the United
In case that sounds like so much rehash to you, let me underline
some things this new report is not:
* It is not another survey of what we now know and don't yet know
about patterns of climate change and their likely impact.
* It is not a new program of rules or policy directives, and
though Congress directed its creation it is not a top-down federal
* It is not a renewable-energy agenda that merely uses wildlife
as window-dressing to attract more support.
* It is not a feel-good stakeholder exercise in listing a bunch
of win-win ways for polluters and conservationists to pluck and
share some low-hanging fruit.
* It is not even, primarily, a call for further research and
deliberation, though the gaps in our current understanding are
addressed in a can-do kind of way.
A call for concerted action
This is a call for adaptive action -- swift and concerted action-
-using the tools and resources now available, by the very agencies
already doing this kind of work, newly aligned behind a unifying
strategy they wrote themselves.
I caught up with Jim Manolis, who leads the Minnesota Department
of Natural Resources team dealing with climate issues, and he said
he thinks the National Climate Adaptation Strategy "is going to be
an important document."
Other reports have dealt with climate impacts on wildlife, he
said, and intergovernmental cooperation isn't a new idea. But this
report's sharp focus and broad buy-in will make it influential.
Manolis is not praising his own handiwork here. DNR was not among
the state-level collaborators, though some DNR managers took part in
early discussions of the project within the national Association of
Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
Whether agencies adapt their missions to follow the roadmap more
closely or not, the ability to explain their programs in the context
of a broad national consensus will probably make it easier to answer
skeptics in, say, a legislative hearing or citizen forum.
The dollar worth of wildlife
The report is highly pragmatic, and part of its pragmatism lies
in reminding Americans about the worth of wildlife as economic
drivers. An excerpt, lightly compressed:
Hunting, fishing, and other wildlife-related recreation in the
United States is estimated to contribute $122 billion to our
nation's economy annually.
The U.S. seafood industry -- most of which is based on wild, free-
ranging marine species -- supported approximately 1 million full-
and part-time jobs and generated $116 billion in sales impacts and
$32 billion in income impacts in 2009.
Marine recreational fishing also contributes to coastal areas as
an economic engine; in 2009, approximately 74 million saltwater
fishing trips occurred along U. …