2012 Climate Vulnerability Assessment Workshop

On July 30, 2012, natural and cultural resources managers from Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks  and John D. Rockefeller Parkway; National Park Service staff from the Intermountain  and Washington offices; and university partners gathered to identify conservation targets as the first step in developing a Climate Adaptation Response Strategy for the greater Yellowstone area parks. Participants in the workshop focused on infrastructure  and natural and cultural resources that are critical to the park purpose and may be vulnerable to climate change as initial conservation targets. This effort is a pilot for the Intermountain Region to develop a guide for park-based climate change adaptation strategies.

Global climate change challenges the National Park Service mission to leave parks unimpaired for future generations and threatens the integrity of many park resources. Decreased snow pack, altered stream flow, increased wildfire, extended growing seasons, sea level rise, prolonged drought, and shifting plant and animal distributions  all create new ecological patterns and trends. Climate change also exacerbates existing stressors to ecosystems and resources such as insects, fungal pathogens, land use change, atmospheric pollution, floods, and invasive species. Cultural resources and park infrastructure are at risk from increasing extreme weather events, reduced water availability, and potential changes in the range of pest species. Recent mandates from Nation Park Service Leadership, Presidential Executive Order 13514, and the U.S. Department of the Interior clearly mandate the need to respond to climate change.