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Informing Climate Change Adaptation Planning in National Parks

Principal Investigator(s): 
Amy Symstad (Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center)
Co-Investigator(s): 
Gregor Schuurman (NPS, Climate Change Response Program); Brian Miller (USGS, North Central Climate Science Center); Chris Church (NPS, National RSS Coordinator, Planning Division); Rene Ohms (NPS, Chief of Resource Management, Devils Tower National Monument)

One of the biggest challenges facing resource managers today is not knowing exactly when, where, or how climate change effects will unfold. In order to plan for this uncertain future, managers have begun to use a tool known as scenario planning, in which climate models are used to identify different plausible climate conditions, known as “scenarios”, for a particular area.

In a previous project, researchers with the North Central Climate Science Center worked with natural resource managers at Badlands National Park and on surrounding federal lands to model how different climate scenarios and management activities would impact the area’s resources. The model that was developed answers critical “what if” questions regarding how management actions might affect focal resources, such as grazing lands, under different future climate conditions. Building on this work, researchers will produce management-relevant publications that translate the previous project’s results into a format that can support management planning.

Using insights gained from the previous project, researchers will also design a process for integrating scenario planning and climate science into National Park Service (NPS) Resource Stewardship Strategies. These strategies are part of NPS’s streamlined approach for guiding prioritization of a park’s investments in resource stewardship. Researchers will work with Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming as a case study for this integration effort.

For data, information, products, and more, visit the NCCWSC project page and ScienceBase page for this project. 

: “Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in Badlands National Park - Credit: NPS”