Posted by: Patricia Salkin | January 19, 2010

EPA Publishes Draft Report for External Comment on the Feasibility of Incorporating Climate Change Information Into Land Protection Planning

Comments are due February 1, 2010 on a draft report prepared for EPA entitled, “An Assessment of Decision-Making Processes: The Feasibility of Incorporating Climate Change Information into Land Protection Planning.”  This offers a review of decision-making processes of 19 selected land protection programs for the purpose of assessing the feasibility of incorporating climate change impacts into the evaluation of these programs.

 This may be the first time that EPA has issued a report the directly links climate change mitigation with local land use strategies.  Although this report focuses only on land preservation programs, it may signal the beginning of some thoughtful and needed discussions in area of federalism and climate change.

The abstract of the report reads as follows:

Land protection decisions are long-term, hard to reverse, and resource intensive.  Therefore these decisions are important to consider in the context of climate change, because climate change may directly affect the services intended for protection and because parcel selection can exacerbate or ameliorate certain impacts. This research examined the decision-making processes of selected programs that protect land to assess the feasibility of incorporating climate-change impacts into the evaluation of land protection programs. The research focused on a sample of the LandVote database, which documents land protection ballot initiatives that sought to protect wildlife and watersheds. Of this sample, we reviewed the decision-making frameworks of 19 programs. Most programs use quantitative evaluation criteria and a bottom-up process for selecting parcels. Almost all programs have one or more advisory committees. The  analysis revealed that strategies that might be useful for incorporating climate change into decision making include new decision-support tools for advisory committees, promulgation of different land protection models, and educational outreach for elected officials. As jurisdictions learn more about possible climate change impacts, certain land protection strategies may become more desirable and feasible as part of a portfolio of adaptation strategies that ameliorate impacts on watersheds and wildlife.

 The full report may be downloaded at:

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