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Climate change vulnerability and adaptation in the Blue MountainsAuthor(s): Jessica E. Halofsky; David L. Peterson
Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-939. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 331 p.
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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DescriptionThe Blue Mountains Adaptation Partnership was developed to identify climate change issues relevant to resource management in the Blue Mountains region, to find solutions that can minimize negative effects of climate change, and to facilitate transition of diverse ecosystems to a warmer climate. Partnering organizations included three national forests (Malheur, Umatilla, Wallowa-Whitman National Forests), the Pacific Northwest Research Station and Pacific Northwest Region of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, the University of Washington, and the Climate Impacts Research Consortium at Oregon State University. These organizations worked together over a 2-year period to conduct a state-of-the-science climate change vulnerability assessment and develop adaptation options for national forests in the Blue Mountains region. The vulnerability assessment emphasized four resource areas—water, fish, upland vegetation, and special habitats—regarded as the most important resources for local ecosystems and communities.
The vulnerability assessment indicated that effects of climate change on hydrology in the Blue Mountains will be especially significant. Decreased snowpack and earlier snowmelt will shift the timing and magnitude of streamflow; peak flows will be higher, and summer low flows will be lower. Projected changes in climate and hydrology will have far-reaching effects on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, especially as frequency of extreme climate events (drought) and associated effects on ecological disturbance (wildfire, insect outbreaks) increase. Abundance and distribution of spring Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha Walbaum), redband trout/steelhead (O. mykiss gibsii Walbaum)/(O.m. Walbaum), and especially bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus Suckley) will be greatly reduced, although effects will differ by location as a function of both stream temperature and competition from nonnative fish species. Increasing air temperature, through its influence on soil moisture, is expected to cause gradual changes in the abundance and distribution of tree, shrub, and grass species throughout the Blue Mountains, with droughttolerant species becoming more competitive. Ecological disturbance, including wildfire and insect outbreaks, will be the primary facilitator of vegetation change. High-elevation forest types will be especially vulnerable to disturbance.
Resource managers developed a detailed list of ways to address these climate change vulnerabilities through management actions. The large number of adaptation strategies and tactics, many of which are a component of current management practice, provide a pathway for slowing the rate of deleterious change in resource conditions.
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CitationHalofsky, Jessica E.; Peterson, David L., eds. 2017. Climate change vulnerability and adaptation in the Blue Mountains. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-939. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 331 p.
KeywordsAccess, adaptation, Blue Mountains, Blue Mountains Adaptation Partnership, climate change, fire, forest ecosystems, fisheries, hydrology, roads, science-management partnership, special habitats, vegetation, wildlife.
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