Climate Change and Western Public Lands: a Survey of U.S. Federal Land Managers on the Status of Adaptation Efforts
Kelli M Archie, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR); Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES); and Environmental Studies Program, University of Colorado, Boulder
Lisa Dilling, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR); Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES); and Environmental Studies Program, University of Colorado, Boulder
Jana B Milford, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder
Fred C Pampel, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, Boulder
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Climate change and its associated consequences pose an increasing risk to public lands in the western United States. High-level mandates currently require federal agencies to begin planning for adaptation, but the extent to which these mandates have resulted in policies being implemented that affect on the ground practices is unclear. To examine the status of adaptation efforts, we conducted an original survey and semistructured interviews with land managers from the four major federal land management agencies in the U.S. states of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. The survey was designed to examine current planning for adaptation on public lands and how it differs from prior planning, the major challenges facing land managers in this region, the major barriers preventing managers from planning for adaptation, and the major hurdles associated with implementing adaptation plans. Our results show that some adaptation planning is currently taking place, but that few adaptation projects have made it to the implementation phase. Overall, respondents considered lack of information at relevant scales, budget constraints, lack of specific agency direction, and lack of useful information to be the most common barriers to adaption planning. Budget constraints, lack of perceived importance to the public, and lack of public awareness or demand to take action were reported to be the biggest hurdles to implementation of adaptation projects. Agencies showed differing levels of adaptation activity, and reported different barriers to adaptation and hurdles to implementation. Reasons for the differences and implications for future research and policy are discussed.
adaptation; climate change; decision making; federal agencies; public lands