A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The CSCs will provide managers of natural, cultural and historic resources with the information and tools they need to plan for the challenges posed by climate change and other landscape-scale stressors -- including fire, invasive species and changing land use. Interior has established centers in the Northwest, Alaska, and Southeast, and has announced plans for CSCs in the North Central and Southwest regions in partnership with universities.
“The Climate Science Centers help ensure that science has a seat at the head of the table as we make decisions on how to manage the natural and cultural treasures entrusted to the Department of the Interior,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “These CSCs are critical to helping federal, state, local, tribal, and private sector decision-makers understand changes from various environmental stressors and plan in ways that reduce economic and ecological impacts.”
Secretary Salazar initiated a coordinated climate change strategy in September 2009 through Secretarial Order 3289. The order called for establishing not only regional CSCs but also a network of “Landscape Conservation Cooperatives” that engage federal agencies, local and state partners, and the public in using the best available science to craft practical, landscape-level strategies for managing the impacts of stressors such as climate change on natural, cultural, and historic resources.
Each of the five existing or planned CSCs is a cooperative endeavor between the Interior Department and one or several universities acting as a consortium. On Feb. 24, the Department held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Alaska Climate Science Center, which is hosted by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and located in Anchorage. In addition, the Department has already announced the Southeast Climate Science Center hosted by North Carolina State University; the Northwest Climate Science Center led by a consortium of three universities--Oregon State University, University of Washington and the University of Idaho; The Southwest Climate Science Center with a large consortium including University of Arizona-Tucson; and the North Central Climate Science Center with nine universities headed by Colorado State University.
Salazar continued, “We are joining hands with the top scientific talent in the country to take on these challenges. The network of researchers, data management infrastructure and partnerships with resource agencies in the existing centers is tremendous, and we expect strong proposals from the remaining regions.”
Once fully instituted, the CSCs will form a network with the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center to access the best science available to help managers in the Interior Department, states, other federal agencies, and the private and nonprofit sectors.
The National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, established by Congress in 2008, is located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey which is taking the lead on establishing the CSCs and providing initial staffing. Ultimately, funds and staff from multiple Interior bureaus will be pooled to support these centers and ensure collaborative sharing of research results and data.
Within their respective regions, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives will focus on impacts that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit—such as the effects of climate change on wildlife migration patterns, wildfire risk, drought or invasive species. Twenty-one LCCs are planned through FY 2012, with 15 already established across the nation.