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For Release: Monday, February 6, 2012

DEC to Host National Public Meeting on the Draft National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Division of Fish, Wildlife & Marine Resources and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies will co-host a public meeting to discuss the draft National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy. The public meeting will take place at DEC's central office, 625 Broadway, Albany on Thursday, February 9th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is geared toward providing a unified approach-reflecting shared principles and science-based practices-to reduce negative impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, plants and the natural systems they depend. Federal, state and tribal partners, with input from many diverse groups across the nation, are collaborating to develop a common strategy to respond to the challenges a changing climate poses for our nation's species, ecosystems and natural resources.

"For more than a century, state fish and wildlife agencies have been entrusted by the public to be good stewards of their natural resources. To do that, we constantly are called upon to address threats to our natural resources," said Patricia Riexinger, director of the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources for DEC. "Today's pressures on fish and wildlife and their habitats are exacerbated by climate change, and together, they emphasize the need for increased conservation and science-based management. The strategy is our nation's insurance for managing healthy and robust ecosystems in uncertain future conditions."

"This strategy provides a framework for safeguarding America's fish, wildlife and plant resources and the valuable services they provide over the long-term," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "NOAA is committed to working with federal, state, tribal and local government agencies, non-government organizations and the public in this process because we all have important roles to play in preparing all regions of our nation in a changing climate."

Congress called for a national, government-wide strategy in 2010, directing the President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Department of the Interior to develop it. CEQ and Interior responded by assembling an unprecedented partnership of federal, state and tribal fish and wildlife conservation agencies to draft the strategy. More than 100 diverse researchers and managers from across the country participated in the drafting for the partnership. The partnership is co-led by Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, representing state fish and wildlife agencies.

The strategy will guide the nation's efforts during the next five years to respond to current and future climate change impacts such as changing species distributions and migration patterns, the spread of wildlife diseases and invasive species, the inundation of coastal habitats with rising sea levels and changes in freshwater availability with shifting precipitation and habitat types. The strategy does not prescribe mandatory activities agencies must take nor suggest regulatory actions. Rather, it provides a roadmap for decision makers and resource managers to use in considering climate change implications to their ongoing wildlife and habitat management activities.

Elements of the draft strategy include:

  • Descriptions of current and projected impacts of climate change on the eight major ecosystems of the United States, the fish, wildlife and plant species those ecosystems support and the vital ecosystem services they provide
  • Goals, strategies and actions to reduce the vulnerability and increase the resilience of fish, wildlife, plants and the communities that depend on them in the face of climate change
  • Collaborative strategies and actions that agriculture, energy, transportation and other sectors can take to promote adaptation of fish, wildlife and plants and utilize the adaptive benefits of natural resources in their climate adaptation efforts
  • A framework for coordinated implementation of the strategy among local and national government and non-governmental entities

A Steering Committee that includes government representatives from 16 federal agencies, five state fish and wildlife agencies and two inter-tribal commissions is leading the strategy development. The Steering Committee includes representatives from the California, Washington, Wisconsin, New York and North Carolina fish and wildlife agencies. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is providing staff support for developing the strategy.

The Public Review Draft of the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is available for public review and comment. Public involvement is critical for the development of a robust and relevant response to the impacts of climate change. The public is encouraged to attend and/or submit comments and input on the draft.

  • Learn more about the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy at the Offsite Link in the right column.
  • Download the draft Strategy at the Offsite Link in the right column.

Public comments can be submitted online at the Offsite Link in the right column. Written comments may be submitted via the U.S. mail to the Office of the Science Advisor, Attn: National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203.

In addition to the meeting in Albany, there is a webinar on February 14th to provide details and encourage dialogue on the strategy and its development. To register and for more information on the public comment process, visit the Offsite Link in the right column.