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Climate Change, NEPA, And YOUR Role as a Specialist A Presentation to the Regional Fuels/Ecology/Silviculture Specialists Nov. 17, 2010 Jill Dufour, Regional.

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Presentation on theme: "Climate Change, NEPA, And YOUR Role as a Specialist A Presentation to the Regional Fuels/Ecology/Silviculture Specialists Nov. 17, 2010 Jill Dufour, Regional."— Presentation transcript:

1 Climate Change, NEPA, And YOUR Role as a Specialist A Presentation to the Regional Fuels/Ecology/Silviculture Specialists Nov. 17, 2010 Jill Dufour, Regional Environmental Coordinator Pacific Northwest Region

2 It would be nice if we could avoid this You want me to analyze CLIMATE CHANGE ?!?

3 Todays Discussion… NEPA specialists and climate change Two aspects of climate change analysis. The importance of taking time to THINK! (Is climate change an issue?) Risk and uncertainty in NEPA: – Analysis – Decision making A challenge…

4 Climate change: Your role as an IDT specialist KNOW the POSSIBLE EFFECTS of climate change on your planning area. CONSIDER these effects when formulating proposed actions. QUESTION your ASSUMPTIONS. DISCLOSE UNCERTAINTY.

5 Two aspects of climate change analysis The effects your project may have on climate change (i.e. carbon effects, GHG emissions) The effects that climate change has on your project. (The focus of this talk) (http://www.fs.fed.us/climatechange/docum ents/nepa-guidance.pdf)

6 When you take on a NEPA task… Do YOU take the time to THINK???? Is climate change even an issue for this project????

7 Does your project impact climate change??? It is highly unlikely that project-level forestry and fuels projects impact climate change. See my draft boilerplate in your handouts.

8 Does Climate Change Affect Your Project??? A Self-Study Course in Climate Change: 1) Work through the ENTIRE climate change shortcourse: shtml

9 2.) Bookmark and study the information on the Climate Impacts Group website:

10 3.) Consider these pieces of scientific information: Bracketing possible effects given A1B and A2 emissions scenarios; combined with the Hadley global climate model. Water balance deficit estimates from Water Supply Stress Index (WaSSI) (maps soon to be available). Vegetation modeling is not appropriate for supporting tactical decisions. Becky Kerns, PNW Vegetation modeling is not appropriate for supporting tactical decisions. Becky Kerns, PNW

11 Remember… We have been living and working in a changing climate! 4.) Consider YOUR observations and data:

12 We are NOT recommending that you model vegetation responses at this time!

13 Now Lets Talk NEPA… Proposed Actions Effects Implementation and Monitoring Climate Change

14 Proposed Actions: Are DFCs still valid? Are S&Gs still valid? Would this proposed action be good land stewardship under foreseeable climate conditions? Are Forest Plan amendments needed in light of foreseeable climate effects? THINK!!!!

15 Analyzing Effects Analyze & disclose direct, indirect, and cumulative effects (40 CFR 1502, 36 CFR 220). Incomplete/unavailable data Risk/uncertainty disclosures

16 Incomplete/Unavailable Information (40 CFR ) (1) A statement that such information is incomplete or unavailable; (2) a statement of the relevance of the incomplete or unavailable information to evaluating reasonably foreseeable significant adverse impacts; (3) a summary of existing credible scientific evidence which is relevant to evaluating the reasonably foreseeable significant adverse impacts, and (4) the agency's evaluation of such impacts based upon theoretical approaches or research methods generally accepted in the scientific community.

17 Lets Talk about Risk & Uncertainty

18 A SCENARIO: Risk/Uncertainty in NEPA Bear Valley WUI Treatment The Bear Valley RD is considering a proposed action to treat the WUI surrounding Scenic Town.

19 Bear Valley Thin Purpose and Need: Protect Scenic Town by reducing fuels in surrounding forests.

20 Proposed Action Thin a strip 2 miles wide around Scenic Town, reducing ponderosa pine densities to XX (basal area). NOTE: (This density DFC is a traditional, time- honored prescription that has been used for fuels management for 50 years on the Bear Valley RD)

21 But Wait! The Silviculturalist and Fuels Specialists reconsider! Future climate may range from cooler/wetter to warmer/drier! They propose a possible change in the prescription… Proposal B: Decrease densities to: – Improve Ponderosa pine resilience. – Widen the treatment area to ensure that the fire break is adequate to protect Scenic Town. Note that this is an interdisciplinary discussion

22 Disclosing uncertainty in effects. This prescription will produce proper stand conditions and fire behavior needed to protect Scenic Town under all reasonably foreseeable climatic conditions; including: Typical weather and fire patterns observed in the last 50 years, and The range of climate conditions (warmer, drier and wetter/cooler predicted under climate change scenarios A1B and A2 (reference) using the Hadley global climate model (reference)). (NOTE: A detailed rationale would support these findings)

23 Risk/Uncertainty in Effects Key Points: No absolutes, state findings as ranges and possibilities. Think like the decision maker! Put the bottom line first, then write rationale. Include data confidence intervals/resolution/error.

24 Decisions: Incorporating Risk/Uncertainty I have decided to treat the WUI as described in Alt. B to accommodate a wide range of future climatic conditions. If we see evidence in our monitoring of more extreme fire behavior in the next 10 years or drought stress in the pines, I will consider new types of treatment through another NEPA process. It is my highest priority to keep Scenic Town safe.

25 What should our land management decisions look like, given an uncertain future? Dont worry… Be Happy! We will learn new information We can change & adapt Youre professional land managers! You already know how to do this stuff! Youre professional land managers! You already know how to do this stuff!

26 A Challenge: YOU must be a climate change leader More rigorous, long-term monitoring and synthesis of findings. Unprecedented amounts of scientific information to review. And… Most importantly: Managerial COURAGE and HUMILITY.

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