Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for BLM Resource Management in Southern Nevada

Patrick J. Comer

This pilot project investigated the potential application of Yale Framework analyses and approaches for public land management, where natural resource assessment aims to provide context and information for planning decisions. The project built upon current research carried out for the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Rapid Ecoregional Assessments (REAs—see process diagram at right) within the ecological transition between the Mojave Desert and Great Basin ecoregions of southern Nevada. Key stakeholders for this project included BLM staff in state and field offices within Nevada with responsibilities for natural resource management planning. The BLM field offices of Tonopah, Caliente, and Las Vegas were emphasized. More broadly, this pilot should have relevance to other land managers and planners, especially if managing for ‘multiple-use,’ and where regulatory requirements apply under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

An adaptive approach is essential with a changing climate. Change is likely to accelerate and bring increasing levels of uncertainty to decision making. We now face the challenge of aligning assessment and planning processes to better foresee rapidly changing conditions and provide insights into the type, location, and timeframe for appropriate management action. The latter factor - timeframe - tends to differ for assessment vs. planning. Timeframes for ecoregional assessments pertain to the prior century, current conditions, and forecasts extending over the coming 50 years. In contrast, planning decisions are taken within 1, 5, 10, or perhaps 15-year planning cycles. Therefore, a key challenge is to glean insights from assessments organized around longer timeframes that will inform the planning decisions of the coming decade. Determining which actions to take today, versus which to postpone for subsequent cycles of assessment, will become an increasingly critical facet of natural resource management in the 21st century. Through this project, we aimed to explore these questions and test analyses suggested by the Yale Framework in order to assist BLM with their planning decisions.

NatureServe Author(s)

Citation

  • Comer P, Crist P, Tague J, Varley I, and Bow J. 2012. Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for BLM Resource Management in Southern Nevada: A Pilot Test of the Yale Mapping Framework. Final Draft Report to Yale University. Arlington, VA: NatureServe.