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Adaptation Examples


Forest Project
Region 1


The Bitterroot NF has altered their planting program in response to climate change information. They thoroughly examine the influence of climate change on stand response when planning commercial or non-commercial thinning or TSI work. The forest also incorporates climate change information in planning fisheries and wildlife enhancement projects.
Flathead Silviculturists on the Flathead NF are increasing species diversity in planting prescriptions and generally decreasing density of seedlings planted. Target densities for pre-commercial thinning are also generally being reduced to increase growing space and reduce stress on the remaining trees.
Region 2
Black Hills The Black Hills NF is aggressively addressing fuel hazard and susceptibility of ponderosa pine to mountain pine beetle attack, with the aim of promoting resilience. Management is based on Forest Plan direction amended in 2005 and collaboration with neighbors, and includes consideration of county community wildfire protection plans (CWPPs). The Forest has also taken advantage of integrated and partnership opportunities to remove instream barriers, particularly at road-stream crossings. This promotes improved stream connectivity, thereby allowing aquatic species such as fish to access suitable habitat throughout a range of environmental conditions.
Region 3
Tonto The Tonto NF is continuously attempting to improve condition of its riparian vegetation through grazing management. Riparian improvements will reduce impacts to stream temperatures and resilience of stream channels to extreme climatic events. The Forest uses the SPI to assist with grazing management to prevent degradation to vegetation during drought so that resilience of uplands is sustained. Fuel thinning and prescribed burning is occurring within and outside of the Wildland Urban Interface.

The Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement and Land Management Plan are currently available for the Coronado National Forest undergoing the 2012 Planning Rule revision. The Southwestern Region Climate Change Trends and Forest Planning document provides the scientific foundation related to climate change for the forest plan.

The plan discusses the impacts of climate change that the forest is likely to experience including warmer winters with reduced snowpack, an increase in the number of hot days, an increase in extreme flood events, and a decrease in annual precipitation. Management approaches to these and other trends are identified including anticipating and planning for disturbances from intense storms, increasing water conservation and planning for reduction in upland water supplies, and anticipating and monitoring increased forest recreation use.

Coronado Staff on the Coronado NF are working in partnership with Sky Island Restoration Cooperative to implement a number of projects intended to reduce the vulnerability of our ephemeral drainages and restore springs. The projects include the installation of rock detention structures intended to reduce sediment and increase infiltration. Preliminary data from USGS indicates these structures are highly effective. The forest is also working to restore nectar and milkweed species for vulnerable species such as hummingbirds, bees, Monarch butterflies, and others through seed collection, seed banking, and planting. Pinaleno Ecosystem Restoration Project is thinning trees to reduce the risk of high intensity wildfires that threaten the scarce mixed conifer habitat and protection of the Mt. Graham red squirrel habitat. Various fuels reduction projects and FireScape analyses are working toward reducing intense wildfires and protection of existing vegetation resources and TES habitat. Buffelgrass treatments are protecting vulnerable Sonoran Desert communities.
Region 4
Salmon-Challis The Salmon Valley Stewardship (collaborative group active on the North Zone of the Salmon-Challis NF) is partnering with EcoAdapt to assist the collaborative group with developing projects with a climate adaptation emphasis.
Uinta-Wasatch-Cache A decision was signed for the Mill Creek project which will restore riparian vegetation, thereby reducing water temperatures and providing improved habitat for sustainable populations of native fish.
Region 5
Eldorado A significant effort is being made on the Eldorado to adapt the forest to the effects of climate change by increasing resiliency. This is being accomplished through numerous forest restoration projects that seek to mimic the natural effects of fire by creating a forest structure that falls within the natural range of variability. In addition, forest staff have been participating in workshops that focus on adaptation development and planning. Increasing the water storage capacity of meadows across the forest is also a major focus. Climate change considerations have also been a driving force in reforestation plans for the King Fire.

The Sierra NF has implemented a number of resource management actions to reduce vulnerability to climate change stressors, such as increased temperature and the potential for reduced soil moisture due to greater evapotranspiration, and a greater potential for large scale, high severity wildfire. 

The mixed conifer forests are managed according to recommendations provided by the US Forest Service GTR 220: An Ecosystem Management Strategy for Sierran Mixed Conifer Forests, and GTR 237: Management of Sierran Forests. These recommended management approaches have allowed the forest to implement a greater level of sustained restoration projects, which in turn have produced greater forest resiliency to climate change stressors as well as greater economic reliability for forest product interests. Meadow restoration projects are integrated into all large-scale landscape ecological restoration projects, including reducing tree encroachment, thus maintaining meadows with greater long-term resilience to climate change stressors. 

The Sierra NF works to reduce excessive fuel loads with the use of prescribed fire and under burning, as well as mechanical thinning and forest understory vegetation mastication to reduce the potential for uncharacteristic large-scale, high severity wildfires. This should also create greater resilience to increased drought conditions. 

The Sierra NF also continues to work to reduce the spread of invasive plant species, by using improved grazing and other management practices including the limited use of herbicides where applicable.

Tahoe The Tahoe NF is a partner with the Highway 89 Stewardship Team, a grass roots effort to help increase wildlife habitat connectivity and reduce animal-vehicle collisions. California State Highway 89 bisects important habitat across a portion of the Tahoe National Forest, creating an often deadly obstacle for the wildlife that depend on this essential habitat. Starting several years ago and continuing now and into the foreseeable future, the team has accomplished the installation of mitigation structures as well as provided opportunities for research and education. As a member of this group, the Tahoe NF is helping to increase the connectivity of important wildlife habitat, allowing for wildlife populations to be more resilient to a changing climate.
Region 6
Malheur Management actions conducted by the Malheur NF as part of its accelerated forest restoration projects in FY2016 continue to indirectly address the impacts of climate change by including in project purpose and need statements the need to: (1) increase the resiliency of stands and watersheds to the impacts of wildfires; (2) increase forest resistance to insect outbreaks and diseases; and (3) improve functioning of stream systems. Projects designed to achieve these purposes and needs will generally increase the resiliency of resources and places to the impacts of climate change. Under its accelerated forest restoration program, the Malheur NF is pursuing an aggressive program to reduce both tree stocking in over-crowded stands through thinning and excessive fuel loads through prescribed burning. Increasingly, projects currently under planning are proposing activities that would improve hydrologic processes and riparian vegetation (e.g., restoring streamside hardwoods) to improve resilience of riparian and aquatic ecosystems
Olympic Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park are partnering to determine how to adapt management of federal lands on the Olympic Peninsula to climate change. Efforts began in the summer of 2008 and included the forest and park, along with scientists from the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Regional Office, the University of Washington, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Adapting to Climate Change at Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park may be downloaded here.
Okanogan-Wenatchee Decommissioning of high-risk roads is a major component of the Swauk Pine, Mission and Little Crow Vegetation Management Projects that are presently being analyzed.
Pacific Northwest Region Multi-resource climate change assessments have been completed or are ongoing for 16 national forests and 3 national parks in Washington and Oregon, encompassing over 23 million acres of federal lands. Adaptation strategies are developed for each assessment.
Region 8
Chattahoochee-Oconee The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests are working with the Georgia Forestry Commission and Forest Health Protection on projects including bird monitoring; assessing changes in abundance and distribution of species at risk and invasive species; monitoring acidification levels in Class 1 airsheds and air quality values in Wildernesses; and forest health monitoring for hemlock woolly adelgid, gypsy moth, thousand cankers disease, Southern pine beetle, and emerald ash borer.
Region 9
Shawnee Adaptation strategies to improve wet bottomland forest and increase wetland resilience on the Shawnee National Forest and Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge began in 2016 in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, and state and federal partners. The goals of the project were to manage hydrologic conditions to withstand more severe flood regimes, enhance the resilience of hardwood species, and restore stands of wet bottomland forests.  Read more about the management goals and adaptation actions on the project website.
Monongahela A Monongahela National Forest restoration project is featured in the USDA Northeast Climate Hub's  "As If You Were There" virtual field tours. These tours offer an interactive way of visualizing climate adaptation projects through the use of 360° photography and video. The Monongahela NF is working with partners to restore areas that were mined for coal in the 1970s and 1980s, and enhance their long-term resilience to climate change. These efforts will also help to improve the watershed, provide wildlife habitat, and restore native ecosystems. Take a field tour of this project today!
Region 10
Tongass The Tongass Forest Plan and the Amended Plan riparian standards and guidelines provide a robust framework for maintaining diverse and complex riparian areas. Riparian Management Areas (RMAs) are delineated according to physical and biological criteria designed to sustain an array of riparian ecological functions. While not initially developed with climate adaptation in mind, the riparian standards and guidelines promote resilience to climate-driven changes in streamflow regimes, stream temperature and wind.
  The largest multi-resource climate change assessment in North America, this partnership includes 15 national forests, 3 national parks, the Greater Yellowstone Area, and 20 Wilderness areas in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and North Dakota (over 38 million acres). The assessment and adaptation strategy are focused on direct implementation in agency planning and management.
Northern Rockies
Northern Rockies Adaptation Partnership The largest multi-resource climate change assessment in North America, this partnership includes 15 national forests, 3 national parks, the Greater Yellowstone Area, and 20 Wilderness areas in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and North Dakota (over 38 million acres). The assessment and adaptation strategy are focused on direct implementation in agency planning and management.
Midwest and Northeast
  Eight comprehensive forest vulnerability assessments have been completed or are ongoing, providing information to 14 national forests with broader applications on 250 million acres of public, private, and tribal lands. Climate change adaptation on-the-ground demonstrations have been broadly implemented to help meet landowner management goals. Over 50 adaptation demonstration projects have been developed to date, providing a robust network of natural resource professionals and landowners engaged in building resilience to climate change.