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New guidelines provide national parks with tools to make difficult decisions in response to climate change


New guidelines provide national parks with tools to make difficult decisions in response to climate change

The climate crisis is changing the landscape of the earth, and the pristine wilderness of our national parks is no exception. In late April, the National Park Service Climate Change Response Plan Released a new guide Designed to help park planners and managers integrate climate change Enter all their decisions.

“The goal is to ensure that the park takes climate change into account in all the plans they are already doing,” explained Wylie Carr, an expert on climate change planning at the National Park Service, in an interview with GlacierHub.

This 85-page document took nearly five years to complete a team of scientists from the National Park Service and the National Wildlife Federation. Jeff Mow, the head of Glacier National Park, explained, trump card administrative Make it difficult to process such documents. “Climate change planning is not considered,” he said. “It will take us a while to recover from it.”

For many years, Glacier National Park in Montana has been feeling the effects of climate change. source: Trey Ratcliffe

The report, titled “Planning for a Changing Climate,” recommends that park planners adopt a scenario-based approach instead of making park plans and policies for only one predicted climate. “This report encourages park managers to use climate change forecasts to try and see what the future might look like, but at the same time recognize that there are inherent uncertainties,” Carl said. “We really encourage parks to plan for multiple climate scenarios and develop strategies that are flexible in the many different futures that may arise.”

Many parks are already feeling the consequences of climate change. In Alaska, Denali National Park As the permafrost melts, the risk of landslides increases.In Georgia, a historic lighthouse Fort Pulaski National Monument It is being strengthened to prevent sea level rise.Temperature rise Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Rare plant species are being endangered. Scientists from the National Park Service predict that such problems will increase nationwide in the next few years. “From parks in Alaska to parks in the Caribbean, we have seen the impact of climate change,” Carl said. “All our parks are affected by climate change.”

A worker in bright orange overalls used a machine to lift a rock next to an old-looking lighthouse.

Staff are working to stabilize the Coxper Lighthouse in Fort Pulaski National Monument. source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The report attempts to deconstruct the linear view of climate change. It shows that park managers see climate change as a “threat multiplier.” In addition to bringing new problems to the park, climate change will also exacerbate and exacerbate existing problems. In Glacier National Park, Jeff Mow has witnessed an increase in the threat of wildfires over the years.

“Wildfires have indeed cleared our clock. We found ourselves dealing with wildfires in a very sensitive way-completely postponing the summer and completely undermining many of our existing plans,” he said in an interview with GlacierHub. “There is no pun intended, but in terms of our availability for other things, it requires a lot of oxygen. In the past six or seven years, wildfire behavior has been really different.”

After the sun sets, the sky is bright orange, and smoke can be seen on the skyline.

In 2015, the Thompson Fire burned 17,000 acres of land in Glacier National Park. source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

As the climate crisis develops, difficult decisions will need to be made. The National Park Service knows that it is impossible to protect everything. They developed a tool to help the park decide what to save.This Boycott-accept-direct The framework aims to provide parks with “a unique set of management options that policymakers can consider when dealing with ecosystems facing the potential for rapid and irreversible ecological change.”

In some cases, the park may be able to cope with change. However, in other cases, the park will have to acquiesce to the will of climate change. Wildfires raged, storms became more severe, and sea levels were rising. Coastal park managers may have to accept that parts of their land will soon be submerged or otherwise irreversibly changed. Sometimes, there is the possibility of “guide” changes. “Maybe we know that the climate in a particular area is no longer suitable for a particular kind of plant,” Carl explained. “So, maybe we start to plant new species that are more adapted to this environment.”

In Montana, the retreat of glaciers in Glacier National Park increased the temperature of the stream, so that the native cattle trout could not thrive in the areas where they traditionally inhabit. For immediate change, park staff have been transferring bull trout to cool alpine lakes where there are no invasive species. “The transfer of bull trout to the alpine lake environment where there are currently no native fish species is a very instructive adaptation strategy that requires a lot of resources to implement,” Mow said.

National parks in the United States are symbols of wilderness, and generations of people have defined this country. In order to keep national parks magnificent for generations to come, society will have to adapt to the paradigm shift in how national parks operate. “The Park Service was established to preserve and protect natural and cultural resources for the American people. Usually, we look back to the past, try to preserve what already exists, and continue to move forward,” Carl said. “This guide says that the past is no longer a reliable guide to what the future will look like.”




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