Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rocky Mountian Forests at Risk

I came across this report that seems worth passing along.  Something to think about while we wait for the Rio Grande National Forest to come out with their overdue Environmental Assessment of the Red McComb's Alberta Park land swap proposal.

This seems a fitting reminder that we are living in the 2010s and our natural and business world is rapidly changing before our eyes - beware of 1980s speculative pipe dreams - their time has passed into yesteryear.  The future needs as much of the Rio Grande River watershed and riparian system protected as possible.  

Red McComb's plan only promises destruction of that all important high mountain watershed and biologically productive wetlands with unavoidable damaging consequences to all down stream users of the interstate, international Rio Grande River.

Rocky Mountain Forests at Risk

Confronting Climate-driven Impacts from Insects, Wildfires, Heat, and Drought

Americans revere the Rocky Mountains for their aesthetic, environmental, and economic value. The Rockies are home to some of the crown jewels of the national park system, including Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, and Rocky Mountain National Parks.

These parks alone receive 11 million visitors each year and generate more than $1 billion annually in visitor spending. Another 60 million people visit the region’s 37 national forests each year.

Today, however, the forests of the Rocky Mountains are facing a triple assault: tree-killing insects, wildfires, and heat and drought. If allowed to continue unchecked, these stresses and their impacts could fundamentally alter these forests as we know them.

Human-caused global warming is driving these detri- mental effects by bringing hotter and drier conditions, which not only cause their own effects but amplify those of other stresses. An exceptionally hot and dry stretch from 1999 to 2003 produced unusually severe impacts on the region’s forests. If these trends continue, even hotter and drier con- ditions could become commonplace, leading to even greater effects on Rocky Mountain forests.

This report documents the latest evidence on how climate change is already disrupting the forests of the Rocky Mountain region and what scientists project for the decades ahead, and suggests how we can best meet these challenges. 

Lead authors
Jason Funk Stephen Saunders
Todd Sanford Tom Easley Adam Markham
September 2014 

[ contents ]
  1. iv  Figures, Tables, and Boxes
  2. v  Acknowledgments
1 Executive Summary   
Chapter 1
5 A Cherished Landscape at Risk    
Chapter 2
9 Increases in Tree-Killing Insects   
Chapter 3
13 Increases in Wildfires 
Chapter 4
19 Impacts of Heat and Dryness on Forests 
Chapter 5
24 Effects on Iconic Tree Species of the Rocky Mountains 
Chapter 6
38 Present and Future Climate Change in the Rocky Mountains 
Chapter 7
44 What We Can Do 

47 References