The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Division of Fish, Wildlife & Marine Resources and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies will co-host a public meeting to discuss the draft National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy. The public meeting will take place at DEC’s central office, 625 Broadway, Albany on Thursday, February 9th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is geared toward providing a unified approach—reflecting shared principles and science-based practices—to reduce negative impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, plants and the natural systems they depend. Federal, state and tribal partners, with input from many diverse groups across the nation, are collaborating to develop a common strategy to respond to the challenges a changing climate poses for our nation’s species, ecosystems and natural resources.
Congress called for a national, government-wide strategy in 2010, directing the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Department of the Interior to develop it. CEQ and Interior responded by assembling a partnership of federal, state and tribal fish and wildlife conservation agencies to draft the strategy. More than 100 diverse researchers and managers from across the country participated in the drafting for the partnership. The partnership is co-led by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, representing state fish and wildlife agencies.
The strategy is expected to guide the nation’s efforts during the next five years to respond to current and future climate change impacts such as changing species distributions and migration patterns, the spread of wildlife diseases and invasive species, the inundation of coastal habitats with rising sea levels and changes in freshwater availability with shifting precipitation and habitat types. According to a statement issued to the press, the strategy does not prescribe mandatory activities agencies must take nor suggest regulatory actions. Rather, it provides a roadmap for decision makers and resource managers to use in considering climate change implications to their ongoing wildlife and habitat management activities.
Elements of the draft strategy include:
* Descriptions of current and projected impacts of climate change on the eight major ecosystems of the United States, the fish, wildlife and plant species those ecosystems support and the vital ecosystem services they provide
* Goals, strategies and actions to reduce the vulnerability and increase the resilience of fish, wildlife, plants and the communities that depend on them in the face of climate change
* Collaborative strategies and actions that agriculture, energy, transportation and other sectors can take to promote adaptation of fish, wildlife and plants and utilize the adaptive benefits of natural resources in their climate adaptation efforts
* A framework for coordinated implementation of the strategy among local and national government and non-governmental entities
A Steering Committee that includes government representatives from 16 federal agencies, five state fish and wildlife agencies and two inter-tribal commissions is leading the strategy development. The Steering Committee includes representatives from the California, Washington, Wisconsin, New York and North Carolina fish and wildlife agencies. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is providing staff support for developing the strategy.
The Public Review Draft of the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is available for public review and comment. Public involvement is considered critical for the development of a robust and relevant response to the impacts of climate change. The public is being encouraged to attend and/or submit comments and input on the draft, which is available online.
Public comments can be submitted online. Written comments may be submitted via the U.S. mail to the Office of the Science Advisor, Attn: National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203.
In addition to the meeting in Albany, there is a webinar on February 14th to provide details and encourage dialogue on the strategy and its development. Registration and more information on the public comment process can be found online.