Trout Unlimited Applauds Department of Interiors Climate Change Strategy

September 14, 2009
For Immediate Release:
Steve Moyer
Vice President for Government Affairs
(703) 284-9406

Trout Unlimited Applauds Department of Interiors Climate Change Strategy
New system will address effects of climate change on fish and wildlife

ARLINGTON, VA.–Trout Unlimited (TU) applauds Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar for creating a coordinated strategy at the Department of the Interior (DOI) to address the current and future impacts of climate change on fish and wildlife resources around the country.

Climate change represents a clear and present danger to the nations fish and wildlife resources, and the Secretary has developed a very promising prescription for this most pressing national priority, said Steve Moyer, TUs Vice President for Government Affairs.

Protecting, reconnecting, and restoring landscapes so they will recover their natural resiliency in the face of climate change is good for both fish and wildlife, and human communities, said Chris Wood, TUs Chief Operating Officer. Protecting the highest quality habitats for fish and wildlife will lower drinking water filtration costs, Wood continued. Reconnecting rivers to floodplains will protect downstream communities from the effects of flooding, while allowing higher soil productivity for farmers. And restoring unhealthy forests can help to protect communities from wildfires while creating high-paying, family-wage jobs.

Todays secretarial order establishes a system through which Interior bureaus around the country will coordinate climate change science and resource management strategies. Included in the plan is the creation of a Climate Change Response Council which will manage DOIs response to impacts of climate change within and among the Interior bureaus. In addition, the plan calls for the creation of eight DOI regional Climate Change Response Centers that will serve various regions of the country as well as a network of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives that will engage agencies and partners to manage climate change impacts in those same regions.

Among a number of essential management activities highlighted as examples in the order to combat climate change is one that requires a word of caution. The order suggests that climate mitigation activities may include …construction of new infrastructure to reduce flood risks or to capture early runoff. Building new dams may not be the smartest, cheapest or fastest way to respond to climate change. Rather, investing in the restoration of natural systems delivers cheaper, cleaner water while providing flood protection.

Protecting our water supplies should be a key component of any climate change strategy, said Jack Williams, TU’s senior scientist. Restoration of our floodplains and riparian areas, rather than building more problematic dams, is the ecologically sound way to recharge groundwater aquifers and provide adequate stream flows while protecting communities from flooding.

Trout Unlimited is the nations largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North Americas trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. In 2009, TU celebrates its 50th anniversary.