NPS releases report on actions to combat climate change in parks
Park Service yesterday released a report detailing actions underway
to address climate change threats to infrastructure, recreation, and
natural and cultural resources. The report follows a
recent study that
revealed sea-level rise caused by climate change could pose a risk to
more than $40 billion worth of national park assets and resources.
of the Interior Sally Jewell highlighted the report during a meeting
in Paris with representatives from the UNESCO World Heritage
Committee, where the delegates discussed shared challenges in
protecting World Heritage sites in the face of a changing climate.
Jewell is in
Paris as part of the 21st Conference
of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference.
happening in our national parks is a small window into the impacts of
climate change on natural and cultural resources around the world,”
Secretary Jewell said. “As negotiations kick off in Paris
today, this report offers positive examples of what we can do, at a
local level, to adapt and build resilience in the face of a changing
climate – even as we work to curb carbon pollution around the
One of the cases
highlights the move of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 1999 to
protect it from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean. The case study was
written by John Kowlok, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore's
examples from the cases studies include:
National Park in Florida – a World Heritage Site – the new
visitor’s facility in the Flamingo area was built with an elevated
design to help reduce the risks from sea level rise and storm
The Gateway National Recreation
Area in New York has restored salt marsh elevation in Jamaica Bay
through the addition of sediment and vegetation.
And in a lab in Ofu, part of
the American Samoa islands, the National Park of American Samoa
operates a facility that works on unique adaptations to Ofu coral
and determining the cause of coral loss and damage.
changes are subtle at some parks but already destructive at others
where we are losing shoreline and infrastructure and where historical
and cultural resources are also at risk,” National Park Service
Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. “The upside is that we’re
taking positive action as the result of adaptation planning we began
in the National Park Service several years ago. This report
illustrates actions we have underway to adapt to our changing
climate, and as best we can, to preserve and protect the resources of
our coastal parks.”
Beavers, co-editor of the report, Coastal
Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies, said the
report was compiled to inspire action, innovation, and dialogue among
park managers and other coastal management agencies that are
responsible for protecting natural and cultural resources.
The report comes
in advance of the National Park Service’s 100th
anniversary in 2016 and is part of Director Jarvis’ Call
to Action, in which the NPS has already highlighted a
need to plan for climate change.
Beavers, the NPS
lead scientist on coastal adaptation to climate change, said the case
studies will provide park managers with an array of coastal
is one of a suite of tools with which the National Park Service is
equipping their frontline managers – the park superintendents –
to tackle diverse coastal challenges,” Beavers said.
In addition to
her meeting with representatives from the UNESCO World Heritage
Committee today in Paris, Secretary Jewell also met with U.S.
Ambassador to UNESCO Crystal Nix-Hines and UNESCO Director-General
Irina Bokova to emphasize continued U.S. support for the world
heritage and other UNESCO programs. Currently, there are 23 U.S.
World Heritage sites.