Climate Adaptation

Climate change is affecting rain and snowfall, stream flow and temperature, and other key factors that in turn may impact habitat for fish and wildlife in the Sandy River.

The material and videos here review climate change, predicted conditions in the Sandy, and how we are working toward effective climate adaptation in the Sandy, the lower Columbia and beyond.

Excerpts from the February 2017 Climate Adaptation workshop at Mt. Hood Community College.

With help from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Climate Adaptation Fund, we're developing scaled strategies aimed to add resiliency to the river and its surrounding forests. The good news: restoration actions to bolster canopy cover and reconnect floodplains can reduce some of the key risks that climate change poses. As our workshop Resiliency Strategies for the New Normal pointed out, there is still time to take action.

Beginning at the Sandy River Delta, we're adapting our plantings to incorporate native trees and shrubs from warmer regions nearby that may thrive in warmer, drier seasons to come. And we're working with a range of partners to protect the Sandy's status as a cold water refuge, where fish, wildlife and people may find cooler temperatures than the lower Columbia, even as regional models predict future warming.

Tom Kaye, PhD, Executive Director of the Institute for Applied Ecology.

About 60 conservation practitioners, researchers, students and community members gathered at our workshop Climate Adaptation in the Sandy: Resiliency Strategies for the New Normal, February 27, 2017 at Mt. Hood Community College. Presenters discussed the Sandy's importance as habitat, history of impacts at the Sandy Delta, projected climate changes including higher temperatures, changing snowpack, and stream flows.

Projected climate changes could increase vulnerability of forests, fish and wildlife that depend on them, but presenters also summarized studies that point to effective adaptation strategies. Anticipating future conditions can guide plant selection for forest restoration, so that plantings are more resilient to the changing Pacific NW climate. Restoring the forest along streambanks, modeling shows, can help cool streams in the long run to preserve cold water refugia, even as general climatic changes would tend to push stream temperatures warmer. Even if it's challenging, communicating with friends and family about climate science can make a difference.

Individual presentations from the workshop are available below:

Steve Wise, SRBWC: Climate Adaptation in the Sandy Introduction

Robin Dobson, USFS: Restoration at the Sandy River Delta

Karl Dickman, ICF: Taking the Next Step: Translating Downscaled Climate Projections into Useful Information for Watershed Management

Constance Harrington, USDA Forest Service: How do Trees Know When to Start and Stop Growing? And How Will That Change in the Future?

Kathie Dello, ICCRI: Is this the New Normal? Putting Climate into Context in Oregon

Tim Abbe: Geomorphology and Climate Adaptive Floodplain Responses in the Upper Sandy River

Casey Justice, CRITFC: Can Stream and Riparian Restoration Offset Climate Change Impacts to Salmon Populations?

Ben Walczak, ODFW: Salmonid Recovery in the Face of Constant Change

Next steps on our climate adaptation work will include field assessments of reference sites near the Sandy Delta, where climate adaptive plants already are present. Fall and winter plantings at the Delta will integrate climate adaptive plantings in native forest restoration areas to preserve habitat and add long-term resiliency to changing climatic conditions.

Funding for SRBWC's climate adaptation work is provided from a grant by the Wildlife Conservation Society through the Climate Adaptation Fund. Support to establish the Climate Adaptation Fund was provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF).