By JIM EVANS
We have an escalating crisis for fish, birds, and nearly every kind of wildlife, and it’s not getting better. While global warming is a worsening long-term threat, growing human population, accelerated extraction of natural resources, and full-on habitat loss already deeply threaten our wildlife and ecosystems. Habitat conservation and restoration are the only ways we can cushion these blows.
Public lands are by far the best places to do this work because they are owned by us all, and because they are the large-scale, interconnected landscapes that wildlife populations and ecosystem processes require. Where we have suitable public lands we should restore habitat and the ecosystem processes – like hydrology – that support that habitat.
Within these large landscapes, river corridors such as Gold Creek are places where, acre-for-acre, we have the best chance of enhancing habitat for now and they are the habitats which are most likely to be resilient in a warming climate.
Gold Creek Valley is widely recognized as a key link in the north-south movements of wildlife populations. Migration pathways such as Gold Creek Valley will be more important than ever in a changing climate, and maximizing habitat quality and productivity in such places will provide critical support for a wide range of species.
We should always plan restoration projects wisely and use available funds as efficiently as possible, but we need to act without unnecessary delay. The factors that stress our ecosystems – climate, population growth, increasing demands for resources – are not waiting for us. As landowners adjacent to key public lands, we have a unique opportunity to contribute positively to these efforts and to ‘pay forward’ to help ensure that future generations have the chance to experience the wild blessings that we do.
We can all benefit by learning more about the science behind ecological conservation and restoration. It’s also fascinating and inspiring! Ecosystem science is a large and growing body of research and synthesis. The articles cited below were selected because they encapsulate many of the key points and are written in language that is not too technical. Where available, articles or posts written for general audiences are paired with the technical articles they describe. All of the links worked as of March 2019. If any of them are broken, please let me know.
Riparian and aquatic ecosystems and climate change: General
- Erwin, K.L. 2009. Wetlands and global climate change: the role of wetland restoration in a changing world. Wetlands Ecology and Management 17: 71-84. https://www.wetlands.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Wetlands-and-Global-Climate-Change.pdf
- Knutson, K. L., and V. L. Naef. 1997. Management Recommendations for Washington’s Priority Habitats: Riparian. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia. 181pp. https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/00029/
- Montgomery, G.L. 1996. Riparian Areas: Reservoirs of Diversity. Working Paper No. 13 (web page). USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/technical/nra/rca/?cid=nrcs143_014206
- National Research Council. 2002. Riparian areas: Functions and strategies for management. Committee on Riparian Zone Functioning and Strategies for Management, Water Science and Technology Board, Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, Division on Earth and Life Studies, National Research Council. Washington, D.C., 428 pp. https://www.nap.edu/read/10327/chapter/1
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Riparian Areas. Chapter 6, pp. 161-198 in The Stream Scene: Watersheds, Wildlife, and People. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/step/docs/ss6_riparianareas.pdf
- Seavy, N.E., T. Gardali, G. H. Golet, F. T. Griggs, C, A. Howell, T. R. Kelsey, S. Small, J. H. Viers, J. F. Weigand. 2009. Why climate change makes riparian restoration more important than ever: Recommendations for Practice and Research. Ecological Restoration 27:330-338. http://er.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/27/3/330
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation. 2011. Summary of Climate Change Effects on Major Habitat Types in Washington State: Freshwater Aquatic and Riparian Habitats. 44 pp. https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01201/
- Yahnke, A. No date. Wetlands and Climate Change. Washington Department of Ecology. https://ecology.wa.gov/Water-Shorelines/Wetlands/Tools-resources/Wetlands-climate-change
Fish, wildlife and climate change
- Price, J., and P. Glick. 2002. The Birdwatcher’s Guide to Global Warming. American Bird Conservancy and National Wildlife Federation. 30 pp. http://abcbirds.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/birdwatchersguide.pdf
- Inkley, D. B., M. G. Anderson, A. R. Blaustein, V. R. Burkett, B. Felzer, B. Griffith, J. Price, and T. L. Root. 2004. Global climate change and wildlife in North America. Wildlife Society Technical Review 04-2. The Wildlife Society, Bethesda, Maryland. 26 pp. http://www.sysecol2.ethz.ch/AR4_Ch04/Ch4-GreyLit/In19.pdf
- National Audubon Society. 2014. Birds and Climate Change. Audubon, September-October 2014. http://climate.audubon.org/
- Nimmo, D.G., A. Haslem. and A.F. Bennett. 2015. Bird communities in a land of droughts and flooding rains: Riparian tree cover as climate refugia. The Applied Ecologist’s blog. https://jappliedecologyblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/bird-communities-in-a-land-of-droughts-and-flooding-rains-riparian-tree-cover-as-climate-refugia/
- [The above blog post is based on the following research paper: Nimmo, D. G., A. Haslem, J.Q. Radford, M. Hall, and A.F. Bennett. 2015. Riparian tree cover enhances the resistance and stability of woodland bird communities during an extreme climatic event. Journal of Applied Ecology 53: 449–458. https://dalenimmo.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/riparian-tree-cover-enhances-the-resistance-and-stability-of-woodland-bird-communities-during-an-extreme-climatic-event.pdf ]
- Williams, J. 2016. Headwaters: Silver lining in a warming world? Trout Unlimited.
- [The above blog post is based on the following research paper: Isaak, D.I., M.K. Young, C.H. Luce, S.W. Hostetler, S.J. Wenger, E.E. Peterson, J.M. Ver Hoef, M.C. Groce, D.L. Horan, and D.E. Nage. 2016. Slow climate velocities of mountain streams portend their role as refugia for cold-water biodiversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113: 4374-4379. http://www.pnas.org/content/113/16/4374.full.pdf ]
Wildlife corridors: I-90 and elsewhere
- Central Washington University. No date. I-90 Snoqualmie Pass Wildlife Corridor Project. Video (00:06:49). https://www.cwu.edu/video/i-90-snoqualmie-pass-wildlife-corridor-project
- Forterra. 2015. I-90 Wildlife Corridor. http://forterra.org/subpage/i-90-wildlife-corridor
- Fremier, A.K., M. Kiparsky, S. Gmur, J. Aycrigg, R.K. Craig, L.K. Svancara, D.D. Goble, B. Cosens, F.W. Davis, and J.M. Scott. 2015. A riparian conservation network for ecological resilience. Biological Conservation 191: 29–37. https://cloudfront.escholarship.org/dist/prd/content/qt37c5j22w/qt37c5j22w.pdf?t=nyjmfe
- [For a general-audience article about this research see Hill, T. 2015. America’s Rivers Could Be the Pathways Animals Need to Adapt to Climate Change. takepart, October 7, 2015. http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/10/07/connecting-wildlife-refuge-networks?cmpid=tp-fb ]
- Justice, C. S.M. White, D.A. McCullough, D.S. Graves, and M.R. Blanchard. 2017. Can stream and riparian restoration offset climate change impacts to salmon populations? Journal of Environmental Management 188: 212-227. https://ac.els-cdn.com/S0301479716309793/1-s2.0-S0301479716309793-main.pdf?_tid=3336952f-24db-4747-8b60-2b9d1b7deb1c&acdnat=1552309667_dfcd53163b21a4dd0fdb7e00e6def055
- Hickey, H. 2019. Assessing riverside corridors — the ‘escape routes’ for animals under climate change — in the Northwest. UW News, February 12, 2019. http://www.washington.edu/news/2019/02/12/assessing-riverside-corridors-the-escape-routes-for-animals-under-climate-change-in-the-northwest/
- [The above blog post is based on the following research paper: Krosby, M., D.M. Theobald, R. Norheim, and B.H. McRae. 2018. Identifying riparian climate corridors to inform climate adaptation planning. PloS ONE 13(11): e0205156. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0205156&type=printable ]
- Singleton, P.H., and J.F. Lehmkuhl. 2000. I-90 Snoqualmie Pass Wildlife Habitat Linkage Assessment. Final Report to the Washington State Department of Transportation GCA1177. USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, Wenatchee Forestry Sciences Lab. PNW-98-0513-CC. 106 pp. https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/reports/fullreports/489.1.pdf
- Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group. 2016. Importance of Habitat Connectivity. http://waconnected.org/importance-of-habitat-connectivity/