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Climate Adaptation Resources for Northwest Rangelands

A changing climate introduces challenges for ranchers and natural resource managers. The following resources are designed to help them adjust their practices or even transform their operations:

Adaptation Partners

Adaptation Partners is a science-management partnership focused on climate change adaptation in the Western United States. Adaptation efforts are intended to inform sustainable management of natural resources, reduce the negative effects of climate change, transition ecosystems to a warmer climate, and help integrate climate change into natural resource management and operations. The Adaptation Library compiles information derived from climate change vulnerability assessments conducted by Adaptation Partners, which collaborates with a diversity of organizations and stakeholders to develop multi-resource assessments.  

Climate Mapper and the Northwest Climate Toolbox

The Climate Mapper is a web-based application that allows users to explore a number of key climate variables that will impact production. The Climate Mapper provides downscaled climate data and derived climate metrics including cold hardiness, growing degree days, and reference evapotranspiration that may be useful for decision making. The Northwest Climate Hub partnered with colleagues at University of Idaho, the Northwest Knowledge Network and Oregon State University to develop the Climate Mapper, which is now part of a suite of tools hosted by the Northwest Climate Toolbox.

Incised Stream Restoration

Restoring incised streams increases local ground water and changes vegetation from shrublands to wet meadow. This site offers new forage options for ranchers subject to drought conditions.

NorWeST Stream Temp

NorWeST hosts stream temperature data and climate scenarios in a variety of user-friendly digital formats for streams and rivers across the western U.S. The temperature database was compiled from hundreds of biologists and hydrologists working for >100 resource agencies and contains >200,000,000 hourly temperature recordings at >20,000 unique stream sites. 

Sage Grouse Initiative

The Sage Grouse Initiative focuses on wildlife conservation through sustainable ranching. This partnership-based, science-driven effort that uses voluntary incentives to conserve America’s western rangelands, wildlife, and rural way of life. This initiative is part of Working Lands For Wildlife, led by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. This site offers webinars, new, events, and resources to assist in wildlife conservation through sustainable ranching. 

Seedlot Selection Tool

The Seedlot Selection Tool is a mapping program designed to help foresters and natural resource managers with matching plant material (seedlots) with planting sites based on climatic information. Though this tool is focused on tree species it is useful for visualizing historic and future climate for restoration efforts. If you know the climate variables that are important for the species you are using you can map that information and decide from where you should source or plant material. A training webinar can be found at Conservation Biology Institute site.

Soil Health Initiative

There are opportunities for farmers and agricultural producers to implement practices that allow producers to adapt to changes while also mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. For example, proper soil management and increased soil organic matter along with proper nitrogen management can help to reduce greenhouse gases while also enabling a more resilient foundation of healthy soils for a more resilient agriculture. Washington State University developed a series of regional case studies that examine the kinds of practices that farmers might implement to build resilience in their operation while the Natural Resources Conservation Service is busy promoting soil health through their recently adopted Soil Health Initiative.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

NRCS works with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners across the country to help them enhance agricultural productivity and protect our natural resources through conservation. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your NRCS conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you. Technical assistance is also available online through Conservation Client Gateway

Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC)

The Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center is a research, development, and applications unit of Pacific Northwest Research Station. WWETAC works to predict, detect, and assess existing and potential environmental threats to western wildlands. WWETAC develops and shares syntheses, models, and application tools to address wildfire risks, fuels management, climate change impacts, exotic invasives and native outbreaks, and how these threats are translated across the landscape. Products include interdisciplinary and cross-boundary analyses, such as understanding human perceptions of fire risk, or conducting and combining socioeconomic and biophysical vulnerability assessments.