(KCPW News) Climate change will eventually force federal and state agencies to change their resource management strategies as ecosystems adapt to a warmer planet, warns a new Environmental Protection Agency report. In Utah and across the West, an uptick in wildfires blamed on global warming is significantly impacting how the Forest Service operates, says Dave Meyers, the Uintah-Wasatch-Cache National Forest Deputy Supervisor.
"Nearly half of our budget now in the U.S. Forest Service goes to wild-land fire suppression," Meyers says. "That's a real large part, recognizing we're a multiple-use agency and we have many other parts to our agency managing other resources: recreation – incredible amounts of outdoor recreation – wildlife fisheries, range management."
Both the frequency and severity of wildfires have increased, and climate
scientists anticipate it will only get worse in the future. However, the new
EPA report also has some good news for public resource managers.
Strategies currently in place to mitigate the impact of other
environmental stresses, such as invasive species, pollution and habitat
loss, also help guard against the effects of climate change, says Joel
Scheraga, director of the EPA's Global Change Research Project.
"Climate change does in fact pose a serious challenge to these resource managers," Scheraga says. "But first and foremost, the report highlights the fact there is a lot we can do now in order to begin to address the challenges imposed by climate change. Climate change is, in fact, a manageable problem, if we begin to act now."
The EPA report, titled "Preliminary Review of Adaptation Options for Climate-Sensitive Ecosystems and Resources," is one of 21 commissioned by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. Since 2002, the national science program has been compiling research on climate change. It has coordinated similar reports for 13 federal agencies. Click here to read the report.