Climate change spurs update to wildlife refuge policy and management

Feb 2, 2024

In the face of climate change and biodiversity loss, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced it is working on new rules to help national wildlife refuge managers more effectively address climate change impacts by updating current management strategies that were based on stable conditions.

The agency is proposing to both revise the existing Biological Integrity, Diversity, and Environmental Health (BIDEH) policy and implement a new rule that will guide management of national wildlife refuges. According to the FWS“Climate change is transforming historical species composition and ecological function of habitats, creating new challenges to traditional wildlife management strategies that were based on stable, stationary baseline conditions.”

The FWS concedes that historical conditions may need to “serve as a reference point” rather than an end goal, given the impacts of climate change, which would alter the targets a refuge manager might set for the restoration of habitat or wildlife populations. “This proposed language would untether current and future management actions from sustaining historical conditions that may no longer be possible on many refuges,” the FWS said.

The National Wildlife Refuge System spans 850 million land and marine acres across a network of 570 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. According to the agency, there is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas, and more than 67 million Americans visit refuges every year.

Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe calls for creation of Kw’tsán National Monument

The Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe is calling on President Joe Biden to protect more than 390,000 acres of the Tribe’s homelands located in Imperial County, California as the Kw’tsán National Monument. The land within the proposed monument area is currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management and contains incredible cultural, ecological, recreational, scenic, and historic values that the Tribe is asking be preserved for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. “The Kw’tsán National Monument is directly adjacent to our reservation but encompasses the heart of our aboriginal homelands,” said Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe Council Member Donald W. Medart, Jr. “This national monument will protect the trails, desert life, petroglyphs, geoglyphs, and lithics that we have in our surrounding desert. The Quechan people have been in this area since time immemorial, and we intend to protect these lands until the end of time.”

Quick hits

New Mexico unveils 50-year water plan

Source NM | E&E News

BLM’s dual mission to pursue solar energy development and protect landscapes

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel | E&E News

Climate change spurs update to wildlife refuge policy and management

E&E News | USFWS press release

Colorado regulators reject two drilling plans deemed too close to people and pronghorns

Colorado Sun

How did mountain lions become a bargaining chip in debate over Utah’s public lands?

The Corner Post

Canadian company to go after millions of pounds of Wyoming’s uranium

Cowboy State Daily

Study: Colorado’s shortgrass prairies at risk of dying off as extreme droughts become more common

Colorado Sun

Interior warns lawmakers of unintended consequences of mining legislation

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Quote of the day

Nevada is the Saudi Arabia of sunlight in the USA.”

—Scott Sklar, director of the George Washington University Solar Institute, E&E News

Picture This

A wayside completely covered in snow hiding any information at @garfieldnps in Ohio.

@nationalparkservice

Signs and waysides are perhaps the most frequently used means of communicating with park visitors. They have a variety of functions. They welcome, direct, warn, inform, and more.

Next time you’re in a park, take notice of the signs around you! The one pictured lets you know when it last snowed. Cool.

Image: A wayside completely covered in snow hiding any information at @garfieldnps in Ohio.

#winter #ohio #signs #waysides #snow #winterwonderland #information

Featured image: Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Source: Hillebrand/USFWS Flickr