The Intermountain Adaptation Partnership (IAP) identified climate change issues relevant to resource management on Federal lands in Nevada, Utah, southern Idaho, eastern California, and western Wyoming, and developed solutions intended to minimize negative effects of climate change and facilitate transition of diverse ecosystems to a warmer climate. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service scientists, Federal resource managers, and stakeholders collaborated over a 2-year period to conduct a state-of-science climate change vulnerability assessment and develop adaptation options for Federal lands. The vulnerability assessment emphasized key resource areas - water, fisheries, vegetation and disturbance, wildlife, recreation, infrastructure, cultural heritage, and ecosystem services - regarded as the most important for ecosystems and human communities.
The earliest and most profound effects of climate change are expected for water resources, the result of declining snowpacks causing higher peak winter streamflows, lower summer flows, and higher stream temperatures. These changes will in turn reduce fish habitat for cold-water fish species, negatively affect riparian vegetation and wildlife, damage roads and other infrastructure, and reduce reliable water supplies for communities. Increased frequency and magnitude of disturbances (drought, insect outbreaks, wildfire) will reduce the area of mature forest, affect wildlife populations (some positively, some negatively), damage infrastructure and cultural resources, degrade the quality of municipal water supplies, and reduce carbon sequestration. Climate change effects on recreation, a major economic driver in the IAP region, will be positive for warm-weather activities and negative for snow-based activities. IAP participants developed adaptation options that can be implemented in planning, project management, monitoring, and restoration as climate-smart responses to altered resource conditions.