Building resilience to climate change one landscape at a time

New report highlights actions of seven partnerships to safeguard natural resources

A view of the lower Russian River and estuary, Sonoma County, California. This area is part of the North-Central California Coast and Russian River Resilient Lands and Waters Partnership.

A view of the lower Russian River and estuary, Sonoma County, California. This area is part of the North-Central California Coast and Russian River Resilient Lands and Waters Partnership. (Image credit: Sonoma County Water Agency)

A Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative report and companion website were released today highlighting the efforts of seven partnerships to build resilience of natural resources in the U.S. These partnerships demonstrate the benefits of using existing collaborative, landscape-scale conservation approaches to address climate change and other resource management challenges.

The Initiative is a key part of the President’s Interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience’s Priority Agenda for Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources (Priority Agenda), a first of its kind, comprehensive commitment across the Federal Government to support resilience of America’s vital natural resources.

The Priority Agenda directed federal agencies to work with states, tribes and other partners to select flagship large-scale geographic regions and identify priority areas for conservation, restoration, or other investments to build resilience in vulnerable regions, enhance carbon storage capacity, and support management needs. It also directed the agencies and their partners to identify and map an initial list of priority areas within each of the selected geographic landscapes or regions.

Sierra Nevada snowpack from the California Headwaters Partnership.
Sierra Nevada snowpack from the California Headwaters Partnership. (Sierra Nevada Conservancy)

“America’s natural resources are vulnerable to many threats, including invasive species, habitat loss, pollution, and extreme weather. Climate change is compounding the impacts from these challenges,” said Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director of White House Council on Environmental Quality. “The Resilient Lands and Water Initiative provides our nation’s natural resource managers with lessons learned and tools that can help them prepare their own landscapes for a rapidly changing future.”    

The culmination of this nearly two-year effort is highlighted in the final report and website, which feature the accomplishments of the seven partnerships and describes overarching challenges, lessons learned, and recommendations. The website also provides links to decision support tools, maps, and related websites developed by the individual partnerships.

"This initiative demonstrates the power of partnerships across state, federal, and private organizations that are stronger together in developing solutions that will build resilience in our natural resources and communities and adapt to a changing climate," said Kevin Hunting, Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

By sharing successes and lessons learned, the Initiative will encourage the development of similar resilience efforts in other areas across the country.  Collectively, these will help build the resilience of our nation’s valuable natural resources and the people, businesses and communities that depend on them in regions vulnerable to climate change and related challenges.

"The Resilient Lands and Waters effort has helped federal and state partners focus on the concrete and practical needs of local partners, and to start building the kind of trusting relationships we need to make progress on really challenging natural resource issues," said Monte Marti, District Manager of the Snohomish Conservation District.

The Lake Huron shoreline at Tawas Point, Michigan. This area is part of the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Resilient Lands and Water Partnership.
The Lake Huron shoreline at Tawas Point, Michigan. This area is part of the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Resilient Lands and Water Partnership. (NOAA-Heather Stirratt)

The Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative supports the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy (NFWPCAS) whose first goal is to build and maintain an ecologically connected network of terrestrial, coastal and marine conservation areas that are likely to be resilient to climate change and support a broad range of fish, wildlife and plants under changing conditions.

Some of the partnerships’ key deliverables include:

  • California Headwaters
    • A story map offsite link describes the region, current issues and efforts underway to increase the pace and scale of restoration throughout the landscape to help improve water quality and quantity, promote healthy forests, and reduce wildfire risk.
    • Websites hosted by both the state (Sierra Nevada Conservancy) and federal (U.S. Forest Service) agency co-leads that shares information on the partnership, including handouts, webinar recordings, and updates.
  • California’s North-Central Coast and Russian River Watershed
    • A story map offsite link describes the landscape; summarizes priority issues such as flood risk reduction, water supply reliability, and vulnerable species and habitats; identifies priority areas for climate adaptation; and notes accomplishments.
    • A sea level rise decision support tool offsite link was expanded to include the Russian River estuary and adjacent coastal areas.
  • Crown of the Continent (northern Rocky Mountains)
    • Creation of seamless Crown of the Continent geospatially explicit data sets and maps offsite link for targeted species and stressors at the transboundary landscape scale.
    • Development of new strategies and tools offsite link that are helping address ecosystem threats, protect target species, and identify critical areas for building habitat connectivity and ecosystem resilience with partners and stakeholders in the Crown of the Continent.
  • Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands (Lakes Huron & Erie)
    • Development of new coastal wetland decision support tools offsite link between Saginaw Bay and central Lake Erie that support the identification and prioritization of restoration actions for both existing and historical Great Lakes coastal wetlands.
    • Landscape Conservation Design offsite link for Coastal Wetlands. This is a collaborative, holistic, and iterative process that provides information, analytical tools, spatially explicit data, and best management practices.
  • Hawaii (West Hawai‘i, West Maui, and He’eia (O’ahu))
    • A story map offsite link was created to house and visualize all the information gathered and created for organizations to utilize and build upon in future actions for the 3 sites that comprise the landscape.
    • An interactive map and database offsite link were created covering resilient activities in the RLW locations.
  • Puget Sound’s Snohomish River Watershed
  • Southwest Florida
    • An interactive website offsite link was created that integrates story maps, graphics, and written descriptions of the Southwest Florida region, anticipated changes to natural and built areas through 2060, and management options.
    • Products and methodology are being used by the Peninsular Florida LCC partners in a SW Florida landscape conservation design, a wildland fire resilient landscapes proposal, and conservation planning in Florida’s Big Bend area. See PFLCC Conservation Planning Atlas offsite link.

Click here for additional information on the Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative.

Media contacts:

Brady Phillips, brady.phillips@noaa.gov202-482-2365
Davia Palmeri, dpalmeri@fishwildlife.org202-838-3464
Laura MacLean, laura_maclean@fws.gov703-358-2202