Federal Task Force Affirms Need for a National Strategy to Protect Wildlife, Natural Resources and Local Communities From Climate Change

For Immediate Release

Environmental Groups
Contact: 

Caitlin Leutwiler, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-3226
John Kostyack, National Wildlife Federation, (202) 797-6879
David Moulton, The Wilderness Society, (202) 429-2681
Forrest McCarthy, Outdoor Alliance, (307) 733-3742
Rebecca Judd, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500
Amy Kober, American Rivers, (503) 827-8648
Mark Wenzler, National Parks Conservation Association, (202) 454-3335
Chip Weiskotten, Wildlife Conservation Society, (202) 624-8172

Federal Task Force Affirms Need for a National Strategy to Protect Wildlife, Natural Resources and Local Communities From Climate Change

WASHINGTON - Summary:

• The federal Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force today delivered a report to President Obama affirming the need to develop a national strategy for helping wildlife and natural resources adapt to the harmful impacts of climate change.
• More than 20 federal agencies and departments participated in the Task Force, led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Through a series of listening sessions across the country, the Task Force also gathered input from the public and communities already feeling the effects of climate change.
• The final Task Force report calls for integration of climate change adaptation planning across federal government programs; more coordinated science applied to decision-making; addressing cross-cutting issues including water resource management, public health, insurance programs, coastal areas, wildlife and habitat, and the protection of communities; better coordination and collaboration of responses to climate change; and enhanced efforts to lead and support international adaptation.

The following are statements from Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation, The Wilderness Society, Outdoor Alliance, Earthjustice, American Rivers, National Parks Conservation Association and the Wildlife Conservation Society:

“Melting sea ice increasingly threatens polar bears and walruses, warming-induced beetle outbreaks have destroyed millions of acres of forests and drought in the Southwest is jeopardizing many species of fish,” said Noah Matson, vice president of climate change and natural resource adaptation at Defenders of Wildlife. “We rely on nature to survive, from the air we breathe, to the water we drink and the food we eat. It is critical that the government develop a national strategy to address the impacts of climate change on our planet before it is too late - not just for polar bears and walrus but for us too.”

“Virtually every institution, public and private, will need to change the way it does business to address global warming and the related problem of ocean acidification,” said John Kostyack, Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming at the National Wildlife Federation.  “Everyone has a moral responsibility not only to reduce the pollution that causes these problems, but also to help reduce the suffering from pollution already deposited into the atmosphere and oceans.  We hope that President Obama takes these recommendations seriously and moves quickly to safeguard communities and ecosystems from harmful climate change impacts.”

“A national adaptation strategy can help our communities cope with both the economic and climate crises we face,” said David Moulton, director of climate change policy at The Wilderness Society. “We must make dramatic carbon pollution cuts if we are to stave off climate change’s worst effects, but ramping up adaptation efforts will create and protect jobs across the country today while protecting our natural resources and communities tomorrow. Dollar for dollar, investing in jobs that build natural resilience to climate change return greater dividends than nearly any other economic sector. Now, more than ever, it’s time for this administration to jumpstart our economy and protect our communities by putting Americans to work keeping our forests, coastlines, rivers and other wildlands healthy in a warming world.”

According to Outdoor Alliance’s Climate Change Coordinator Forrest McCarthy “Declining snowpack shortens ski and snowshoe seasons, makes alpine climbing more dangerous and can eliminate ice climbing. Less snowpack means less water in our creeks, rivers and lakes for paddling. Higher temperatures and prolonged droughts impact the forests, mountains, deserts, and rivers where we recreate, degrading and in some cases even eliminating opportunities for outdoor experience. The government needs to take prompt action in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as adapt to climate induced changes to the natural systems we all depend on.”

"Because climate change is already here, we urge the Obama Administration to swiftly take the next step and issue more specific direction to its land management agencies in order to help wildlife and natural places better adapt to a rapidly changing environment," said Rebecca Judd, legislative counsel at Earthjustice. "When it comes to natural resources and climate change, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  The clock is ticking and we need immediate, on-the-ground conservation measures, such as the reduction of human stressors like logging and overgrazing, the establishment of climate refugia and wildlife corridors, and the protection of intact watersheds."

“Climate change is the greatest threat to the future of our rivers, clean water, and native wildlife,” said Andrew Fahlund, Senior Vice President for Conservation at American Rivers. “We are already seeing more frequent and severe floods and droughts and rising levels of water pollution. The increase in extreme weather is slowing economic growth, increasing waterborne disease and taking lives in communities across the country. To avoid the worst, we must take immediate action to reduce global warming pollution and prepare our communities and landscapes for the impacts that are already taking place.”

"Drought, wildfire, invasive species and other consequences of climate change threaten not only our national parks but also the communities that rely on healthy, natural resources for their economic well-being," said Mark Wenzler, vice president of clean air and climate at the National Parks Conservation Association. “Better coordination among federal agencies is a first step toward combating these threats, but ultimately Congress and the Administration must put real money on the table to safeguard our forests, rivers, oceans, parks, and communities from climate change today, for future generations to enjoy tomorrow.”

“The Task Force’s findings reinforce the data our scientists are already seeing in the field: U.S. wildlife populations are dangerously imperiled due to the effects of climate change. We need a strategy to avoid the worst of the climate change impacts on our animals, plants and ecosystems,” said Kelly Keenan Aylward, Washington Office Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society.  “Local land managers and state agencies must be equipped with the tools to make the best adaptation decisions to benefit wildlife.  A national strategy for collaboration, science and capacity-building on adaptation practices accomplishes this goal and positions us to better respond to the harmful impacts of climate change.”

Read the Task Force’s report here.

Learn more about how Defenders is working to protect wildlife and natural habitats from the harmful effects of climate change. 

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Defenders of Wildlife • National Wildlife Federation • The Wilderness Society • Outdoor Alliance • Earthjustice • American Rivers • National Parks Conservation Association • Wildlife Conservation Society

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