Apr 24, 2015

Federal Agencies Announce Resilient Lands & Waters Initiative

Sites in southwest Florida, Hawaii, Washington and the Great Lakes selected to showcase climate resilience approach

Resilient Lands and Waters climate change  Florida Hawaii Washington Great Lakes

The U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recognized four collaborative landscape partnerships across the country where federal agencies will focus efforts with partners to conserve and restore important lands and waters and make them more resilient to a changing climate. Building on existing collaborations, these Resilient Lands and Waters partnerships—located in southwest Florida, Hawaii, Washington and the Great Lakes region—will help build resilience in regions vulnerable to climate change and related challenges. They will also showcase the benefits of landscape-scale management approaches and help enhance the carbon storage capacity of these natural areas.

The selected lands and waters face a range of climate impacts and other ecological stressors related to climate change, including sea level rise, drought, wildfire and invasive species. At each location, federal agencies will work closely with state, tribal and local partners to prepare for and prevent these and other threats, and ensure that long-term conservation efforts take climate change into account.

Additionally, the initiative will focus on conserving coastal wetlands and marine conservation areas, protecting drinking water for urban areas and providing habitat for wildlife. These collaborative efforts will include the use of existing tools to benefit the entire landscape as well as the development of new tools. For example, in the Great Lakes, partners are developing a coastal wetland prioritization tool that will help determine where restoration efforts are most needed. And in the He’eia watershed on the island of O’ahu, organizations are using NOAA’s Sea Level Rise Viewer to see maps of the potential impacts of sea level rise on the region. 

Efforts in each region are relying on an approach that addresses the needs of the entire landscape. Over the next 18 months, federal, state, local and tribal partners will work together in these landscapes to develop more explicit strategies and maps in their programs of work.

”Building climate resilience on a regional scale is essential for meeting environmental protection goals in the long-term,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Partnering with other federal agencies in this initiative we will ensure that our latest research plays a central role in protecting our nation’s most precious natural resources and keeping our economy strong.” 

The Resilient Lands and Waters initiative is part of the Obama Administration’s Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda, a comprehensive commitment across the federal government to support resilience of America’s vital natural resources.