In the coming decades, population growth, economic growth, and associated land-use changes - in concert with climate change - will influence forests and rangelands in the Interior West. Society’s demand for ecosystem goods and services continues to increase as human and biophysical change alter the productive capacity of these lands. The 2010 RPA Assessment uses scenario-based socioeconomic and climatic projections to analyze these natural resource trends. Geographic variation throughout the Interior West will determine local trends, but regional trends project population growth around existing urban centers and the likelihood of water shortages, primarily in the Southwest. Projected population growth will increase demands for water, agricultural-to-residential land-use changes, and habitat fragmentation. Projected climatic change will further complicate the picture of the region’s future, as water availability decreases, outdoor recreation opportunities shift, and increasing temperatures alter habitat. The RPA Assessment gives a policy-neutral projection of the range of future conditions. Land managers and policy makers can use its results to develop effective plans and policies for climate adaptation and an expanding population. The choices that land managers and policy makers make in the near-term will help to shape the future of natural resources in the Interior West.
Sturges, Frank; Joyce, Linda; Brown, Tom; Flather, Curt; Mockrin, Miranda; Reeves, Matt. 2013. Science You Can Use (SYCU) - Coming to a landscape near you: Natural resource changes in the Interior West. Science You Can Use Bulletin, Issue 8. Fort Collins, CO: Rocky Mountain Research Station. 13 p.