[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 62 (Monday, April 1, 2013)]
[Pages 19514-19517]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-07507]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R9-SATD-2013-N046; FXSC14300900000-134-FF09S00000]

National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), along with the 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, Department of 
Commerce), State, and tribal partners (co-leaders), announce the 
availability of the final National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate 
Adaptation Strategy (NFWPCAS or Strategy). The purpose of the Strategy 
is to inspire and enable natural resource professionals and other 
decision makers to take action to conserve the nation's fish, wildlife, 
plants, and ecosystem functions, as well as the human uses and values 
these natural systems provide, in a changing climate. Input from public 
comments and workshops has been incorporated in the development of this 
final document. The Strategy is available at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/strategy.php.

ADDRESSES: The Strategy and the Strategy Highlights brochure are both 
available for download at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/strategy.php. Alternatively, you may request a hardcopy of a Strategy 
Highlights brochure by writing via U.S. mail to the Office of the 
Science Advisor, Attn: National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate 
Adaptation Strategy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Shaffer, Office of the Science 
Advisor, at 703-358-2603 (telephone) or 
wildlifeadaptationstrategy@fws.gov (email), or via the Strategy Web 
site at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/contact-us.php. If 
you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Service, in cooperation with its co-
leaders--NOAA, State agencies, and tribal partners--announces 
publication of the final National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate 
Adaptation Strategy (NFWPCAS or Strategy).
    The adverse impacts of climate change transcend political and 
administrative boundaries. No single entity or level of government can 
safeguard wildlife and society against

[[Page 19515]]

the effects of climate change. This Strategy presents a unified 
approach--reflecting shared principles and science-based practices--for 
reducing the negative impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, 
plants, our natural resource heritage, and the communities and 
economies that depend on them. The Strategy provides a basis for 
sensible actions that can be taken now, in spite of the uncertainties 
that exist about the precise impacts of climate change. It also 
provides guidance about what further actions are most likely to promote 
natural resource adaptation to climate change, and describes mechanisms 
that will foster collaboration for effective action among all levels of 
government, conservation organizations, and private landowners.

I. Background

    The climate is changing and these changes are already impacting the 
nation's valuable natural resources and the people, communities, and 
economies that depend on them. According to the U.S. Global Change 
Research Program, there have been significant changes in U.S. climate 
over the past 50 years, including increases in average temperatures, 
shifts in rainfall and storm patterns, increases in wildfires, more 
frequent water shortages, rising sea levels, loss of sea ice, ocean 
acidification, and coastal flooding and erosion. Given the magnitude of 
the observed changes in climate, it is not surprising that fish, 
wildlife, and plant resources in the United States and around the world 
are already being affected. The impacts can be seen everywhere from 
working landscapes to wilderness areas far from human habitation. As 
the climate continues to change over the next century, so too will the 
effects on species, ecosystems, and their functions. Furthermore, 
climate-induced changes are also likely to exacerbate existing 
stressors, such as habitat loss and fragmentation, putting additional 
pressure on our nation's valued living resources.
    Rapid warming and other climate changes are already threatening 
many of the benefits and services that natural systems provide to 
people, creating new challenges for human health, infrastructure, 
agriculture, transportation, and energy supplies that depend on natural 
system services in a variety of ways. At risk are jobs, income, and 
businesses; clean air and water; protection from floods and erosion; 
hunting and fishing; wildlife-related tourism and recreation; food and 
forest production; and, ultimately, our health and quality of life.
    Most simply, climate adaptation means helping people and natural 
systems prepare for and cope with the effects of a changing climate. 
Climate adaptation is an essential complement to climate change 
mitigation, or efforts to decrease the rate and extent of climate 
change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions or enhancing carbon uptake 
and storage. Integrating adaptation planning into existing efforts and 
coordinating these efforts among government and nongovernment sectors 
can help decrease the risks and impacts of climate change on our 
natural resources, communities, and economies. This Strategy outlines 
the key steps needed to advance this coordinated response across 
Federal, State, tribal, and local partners through existing and new 

II. Strategy Development

    Over the past decade, there have been increasing numbers of calls 
for action by government and nongovernmental entities to better 
understand, prepare for, and address the impacts of climate change on 
natural resources and the communities that depend on those resources. 
For example, in 2007 the U.S. Government Accountability Office released 
a study entitled Climate Change: Agencies Should Develop Guidance for 
Addressing the Effects on Federal Land and Water Resources, 
recommending that guidance and tools be developed to help Federal 
natural resource managers incorporate and address climate change into 
their resource management efforts. In 2008, the U.S. Global Change 
Research Program released the report Preliminary Review of Adaptation 
Options for Climate-Sensitive Ecosystems and Resources, which called 
for and identified a variety of new approaches to natural resource 
management to increase resiliency and adaptation of ecosystems and 
    In 2009, Congress asked the Department of the Interior (DOI) and 
the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to develop a 
national, government-wide climate adaptation strategy for fish, 
wildlife, plants, and related ecological processes. Language in the 
Conference Report for the Fiscal Year 2010 Interior, Environment and 
Related Agencies Appropriations Act (House Report 111-316, pages 76-77) 
urged CEQ and DOI to ``develop a national, government-wide strategy to 
address climate impacts on fish, wildlife, plants, and associated 
ecological processes'' and ``provide that there is integration, 
coordination, and public accountability to ensure efficiency and avoid 
duplication.'' In addition, CEQ's Interagency Climate Change Adaptation 
Task Force supported this request and called for the development of a 
climate adaptation strategy for fish, wildlife, and plants in its 2010 
Progress Report to the President (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ceq/Interagency-Climate-Change-Adaptation-Progress-Report.pdf).
    In the fall of 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and CEQ 
invited NOAA and State wildlife agencies (with the New York Division of 
Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Resources as the State agencies' lead 
representative) to co-lead the development of the Strategy. The 
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies also provided support and 
representation of the States' interests. In addition to the Federal and 
State partners, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission 
provided staff support to the Strategy Management Team.
    Initial public outreach during 2009 and 2010 contributed toward 
developing the following set of key principles to guide the effort as 
it moved forward:
     Build a national framework for cooperative response.
     Foster communication and collaboration across government 
and non-government entities.
     Engage the public.
     Adopt a landscape/seascape-based approach that integrates 
best-available science and adaptive management.
     Integrate strategies for natural resources adaptation with 
those of other sectors.
     Focus actions and investments on natural resources of the 
United States and its Territories.
     Identify critical scientific and management needs.
     Identify opportunities to integrate climate adaptation and 
mitigation efforts.
     Act now.
    In late 2010, a diverse group of Federal, State, and tribal 
agencies were asked to participate as members of an intergovernmental 
Steering Committee, to provide high-level advice and support for 
development of the Strategy. The Steering Committee includes 
representatives from 15 Federal agencies with management authorities 
for fish, wildlife, plants, or habitat, as well as representatives from 
5 State fish and wildlife agencies and two intertribal fish and 
wildlife commissions. The Steering Committee charged a small Management 
Team, made up of representatives of the Service, NOAA, Association of 
Fish and Wildlife Agencies (on behalf of the States), the Great Lakes 
Indian Fish and

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Wildlife Commission, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to oversee the 
day-to-day development of the Strategy. The Management Team was asked 
to engage with a diverse group of stakeholders, as well as to 
coordinate and communicate across agencies and departments.
    In March of 2011, the Management Team invited more than 90 natural 
resource professionals (both researchers and managers) from Federal, 
State, and tribal agencies to form five Technical Teams based around 
major U.S. ecosystems (marine, coastal, inland waters, forest, and 
combined grasslands/shrublands/deserts/tundra systems). These Teams, 
which were co-chaired by Federal, State, and tribal representatives, 
worked approximately 7 months to provide technical information on 
climate change impacts and to collectively develop strategies and 
actions for adapting to climate change.
    The co-leaders requested public input for the development of the 
Strategy in a May 24, 2011, notice of intent in the Federal Register 
(76 FR 30193). After this initial input was incorporated along with the 
material developed by the Technical Teams, an initial draft of the 
Strategy was circulated in November 2011 to selected Federal and State 
agencies for comment and to the tribes for consultation.
    After incorporating agency input, the Management Team released a 
public review draft on January 20, 2012 (77 FR 2996), for a 45-day 
public comment period. Comments received during the public comment 
period have now been compiled, analyzed, considered, and, where 
necessary or appropriate, addressed. This notice of availability 
announces the final Strategy.
    Please visit the Strategy Web site at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov to download a copy of the Strategy 
or a copy of the Strategy Highlights brochure, or to obtain additional 
background on the development of the Strategy.

III. Public Involvement

    Public involvement is critical for the development of a robust and 
relevant response to the impacts of climate change. Particularly 
valuable to the effort are public guidance on priorities, 
recommendations for approaches, and suggestions based on local 
knowledge and experience.
    Initial outreach and planning for the Strategy began in 2009 and 
early 2010, with a number of listening and engagement sessions, as well 
as several Conservation Leadership Forums. More information about past 
engagement efforts is available at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/engagement.php.
    During the public comment period, several public workshops were 
held around the country, in addition to two online ``webinars.'' These 
workshops and webinars provided interested members of the public the 
opportunity to learn more about the development and goals of the 
Strategy, ask questions, and provide their public comments verbally or 
in writing. Additional workshops focused on the tribal community were 
also held across the country and remotely through a webinar. For a 
complete list of workshops, please visit http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/public-workshops.php.

IV. Response to Public Comments

    During the public comment period between January 20 and March 5, 
2012, more than 55,000 comments were received. The bulk of these were 
general comments of support submitted as mass mailing comments through 
campaigns organized by several conservation-focused non-governmental 
organizations. The remaining 1,400 unique comments were addressed by 
the NFWPCAS Management Team. Public comments submitted during the 2012 
comment period are available on the Strategy Web site, http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/public-comments.php. The following 
is a brief description of the types of comments received and how they 
were handled. Comments addressed the following subjects.

Positive and Supportive Comments

    The Management Team received 53,600 positive comments that were of 
a form letter nature. In addition, 78 unique comments that were solely 
positive and supportive regarding the Strategy were received. Many 
comments referred to the overall effort of the Strategy as being a 
needed and necessary step towards climate adaptation. Others referred 
to specific strategies, actions, or points that were supported by the 
commenter. There were also commenters that offered their help in 
implementing the Strategy and moving forward with partnerships. There 
were no major changes made to the document in response to these 

Comments Relating to Integration and Implementation of the Strategy

    The Management Team received 162 unique comments relating to 
implementation of the Strategy. These ranged from concerns about 
funding and developing new programs to concerns over jurisdictional 
authority and management capabilities. The Strategy was intended to be 
a framework for coordinated action rather than a prescriptive action 
plan. The shared jurisdiction among States, Federal agencies, and 
tribes necessitates a collaborative approach both to drafting and then 
implementing the Strategy. The Management Team revised the discussion 
of implementation to clarify the role of the proposed inter-
governmental coordinating body for evaluation and implementation for 
the Strategy going forward. Many of the comments concerned integration 
and coordination with other existing efforts. The Management Team 
highlighted those efforts, as well as listed related efforts in the 
Strategy Appendix.

Comments Relating to Tribal, Native, and Indigenous Peoples

    The Management Team received 86 unique comments relating to tribal, 
native, and indigenous peoples in the United States. These comments 
included concerns about insufficient discussion of climate change 
impacts on indigenous peoples and traditional ecological knowledge 
possessed by tribal, native, and indigenous peoples. In response to 
these comments, the Management Team added more information regarding 
climate change impacts on tribal, native, and indigenous peoples as 
they relate to fish, wildlife, and plants. The Management Team also 
added specific information on traditional ecological knowledge and the 
use of tribal, native, and indigenous peoples' lands as potential 
monitoring sites.

Comments Relating to Climate Change Impacts Both Globally and on 
Specific Ecosystems

    The Management Team received 129 unique comments relating to 
climate change impacts, including requests for discussion of additional 
specific impacts, concerns that impacts are covered to a degree that is 
too in-depth, and challenges to the assertions made in the Strategy. 
The Strategy bases its information on impacts on the latest National 
Climate Assessment, released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program 
in 2009, which has undergone review by multiple agencies in accordance 
with the Information Quality Act (Pub. L. 106-554). Discussion of 
additional impacts to ecosystems was added if the addition was 
substantive and maintained balanced attention to all ecosystems. The 
Management Team felt that a strong section covering climate impacts to

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ecosystems was important to provide context for the later section on 
adaptation strategies.

Comments Relating to Scientific Information, Tools, and Accuracy

    The Management Team received 116 unique comments relating to 
scientific information, tools, and accuracy. These comments ranged from 
suggestions for additional or substitute references to concerns about 
uncertainty and consensus surrounding anthropogenic influence on the 
climate system. While the Strategy acknowledges the role of humans, it 
presents observed changes in species' ranges and environmental 
conditions and provides adaptation strategies regardless of the 
underlying cause. The draft Strategy has undergone a review in 
accordance with the Information Quality Act and a review by Federal, 
State, and tribal agencies. References were changed or added only to 
correct errors or if they substantially added to the quality of 
document, or if they clarified the discussion of a specific topic.

Comments Regarding Existing Stressors

    The Management Team received 82 unique comments regarding existing 
stressors on fish, wildlife, plants, and their related habitats. The 
majority of these comments encouraged further discussion of invasive 
species in the Strategy. The Management Team clarified the definition 
of invasive species and urged consideration of the potential for 
facilitation of invasive species movement through corridors. Based on 
comments, the Management Team added an additional action within 
Strategy 7.3 that explicitly addresses invasive species. Strategy 7.4 
was also added to address the need for reduction of destructive capture 
practices, illegal trade, and over-harvesting.

Comments Regarding the Structure, Leveling, and Prioritization

    The Management Team received 153 unique comments regarding the 
structure and prioritization of the Strategy. In response, the 
Management Team ensured that all actions and items in the Progress 
Check Lists progressed in a logical order and revised or repositioned 
items as needed. The Management Team also clarified that the Check 
Lists are not comprehensive. There were also several comments 
encouraging prioritization throughout the Strategy. The strategies and 
actions are not ordered according to their priority, nor does the 
Implementation section identify a prioritized list of what to pursue. 
The Management Team decided that priorities should and will ultimately 
be decided by the implementation body.

Comments Relating to the Clarification and Consistent Use of Terms

    The Management Team received 38 unique comments on the need to 
clarify or be consistent with terms used in the Strategy. In 
particular, definitions of ``resilience,'' ``restoration,'' and 
``invasive species'' garnered many comments. Based on the input 
received and discussions within the Management Team, the terms were 
further discussed in the text, better defined in the Glossary (Appendix 
B), or both, and checked for consistency throughout the Strategy.

Comments Unrelated to or Outside the Scope of the Strategy

    The Management Team received 163 unique comments that fell outside 
the scope of the Strategy's purpose. These comments included concerns 
over a lack of emphasis on mitigation of greenhouse gases, changes and 
references to the ecosystem background papers, and many other 
considerations that were not the main focus of the Strategy. The 
Management Team included further information on the carbon capture 
benefits provided by ecosystems. However, though climate change 
mitigation is important, the main focus of the Strategy is climate 
adaptation for fish, wildlife, and plants. Public comment on the 
ecosystem background papers was not solicited as part of the public 
comment period; therefore, no changes were made in response to comments 
received regarding the ecosystem background papers. These papers were 
developed as source material for the Strategy, but are not formal 
appendices to the Strategy. Comments that provided background material 
on climate change mitigation and adaptation were reviewed; however, 
many were outside the scope of the document. No changes were made in 
response to comments outside the scope of the Strategy.

Comments of an Editorial or Opinion-Based Nature

    The Management Team received 270 unique comments that were of an 
editorial or opinion-based nature. These comments were taken into 
account during review. The majority of comments of this nature required 
no change to the document; however, minor changes were made to the 
Strategy in response where necessary, given the purpose and scope of 
the document.

V. Authority

    Conference Report for the Interior, Environment and Related 
Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010.

    Dated: March 20, 2013.
Gabriela Chavarria,
Science Advisor to the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-07507 Filed 3-29-13; 8:45 am]