Climate Change Response Strategy – September 2010


Climate change affects the physical infrastructure, natural and cultural resources, visitor experience, and intrinsic values of national parks. For the National Park Service, the question is no longer “Is the climate changing?” but “What are we going to do about it?”

Responding to climate change will require an unprecedented level of cooperation and collaboration across all levels of the National Park Service and its partners, other government agencies, and neighboring communities. The NPS Climate Change Response Strategy provides guidance towards this unified collaborative response. It articulates six principles for effective decision making in a changing climate, adopted from The National Research Council’s 2009 report Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate. It then lays out a vision to promote climate change science and apply best management practices and sustainable behaviors toward reducing climate change and its impacts. The strategy contains fifteen goals, grouped under four components:

  • science
  • adaptation
  • mitigation
  • communication

For each goal, the strategy lists one or more specific objectives to guide the response. Some of the objectives are broad scale, while others may be implemented by employees at the park level.

Table of Contents

Letter from the Director
Executive Summary
Climate Change and the National Parks: Rising to the Challenge
Building a Collaborative Response
Principles for Effective Decision Making in a Changing Climate
Charting a Course for Action: The Vision
Adaptation Planning
Promoting Ecosystem Resilience
Preserving the Nation’s Heritage
Protecting Facilities and Infrastructure
Legal and Policy Considerations
Conclusion and Next Steps

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