Vulnerability Assessment & Adaptation Planning


NCAP is currently working on vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning for the North Cascadia region. These objectives will be completed with paired two-day workshops by resource sector. Unlike the climate change education workshops, these workshops will bring together managers from all four of the Parks and Forests in the partnership. The first day will cover a review of the relevant climate change and impacts science and a discussion of management goals and objectives. This will be followed by a working session during which Park and Forest resource specialists will collaborate with scientists and resource experts from partner agencies to identify key vulnerabilities. The second day will cover an overview of adaptation strategies and the management and planning context on the Parks and Forests, including any barriers to adaptation planning. This will be followed by a working session to develop adaptation options. The results of these workshops will be compiled into a series of reports by resource sector.


Access to National Parks and National Forest (Update)

As a follow up to the NCAP workshop on climate change and access, additional analysis and findings were presented at two conferences over the summer in Seattle, WA:

  • 4th International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts and Responses
  • UBC/UW 2012 Student Symposium on Hydrology and Water Resources

The presentations focused on hydrologic model projections of changes in snow, flooding, and soil moisture (as a surrogate for landslides) and their implications on transportation infrastructure and operations. For more information, please contact Ronda Strauch at


Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlife Habitat

On January 30th and 31st, NCAP completed the last of four resource sector workshops on climate change vulnerability and adaptation. This workshop focused on wildlife and wildlife habitat.

The first day covered sensitivity and adaptation planning for individual species. Josh Lawler from the University of Washington presented an overview of potential impacts of climate change on wildlife. This was followed by a series of presentations by wildlife biologists from each of the NCAP parks and forests on current wildlife management practices and objectives. Michael Case, also from the UW, presented results from the Climate Change Sensitivity Database for several species of interest in the North Cascadia region. Workshop participants then used the sensitivity database to enter information on additional species.

The second day focused on wildlife habitat with presentations on wetlands, eastside forest dynamics, and connectivity. During working sessions, workshop participants discussed climate change sensitivities and adaptation options for four habitat types (low elevation forests on the east and west side of the Cascades, wetlands, and alpine/subalpine habitats). On the second day of the workshop, we also heard from other agencies and NCAP partners including the North Pacific and Great Northern LCCs, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Canadian Forest Service.


Climate Change, Hydrology, and Access in the North Cascadia Ecosystem

On November 30th and December 1st, NCAP hosted the third resource sector workshop focusing on climate change effects on hydrology and access. Over 40 people from the Forest Service, National Park Service, and partner agencies attended the workshop. Other agencies and organizations represented at the workshop included Federal Highways Administration, Washington Department of Transportation, The Mountaineers, National Parks Conservation Association, City of Seattle, Environmental Protection Agency, and the North Cascades Conservation Council. We also had remote participants from the National Park Service, Washington Office (Cat Hawkins Hoffman, Matt Rose, and Amanda Rutherford). Amanda Rutherford, Transportation Planner, provided information on Long Term Transportation Plans (LRTPs) that are relevant to climate change adaptation planning for access and road management.

Day 1: Vulnerability Assessment
Presentations by experts from the Climate Impacts Group covered projected climate change effects on streamflow, snowpack, flood risk, and landslides. Scott Beason, a geologist from Mount Rainier National Park, presented information on the current challenges associated with sedimentation and aggradation in the park. Jon Reidel, park geologist at North Cascades National Park,presented information on glacier loss in the region. The morning presentations on climate change effects were followed by presentations and discussions about current management issues with roads and trails on the four NCAP units. Compelling stories of recent flood damage to roads, trails, and infrastructure by park and forest managers demonstrated the importance of this topic for climate change adaptation planning. In the afternoon, Mark Maurer from Washington Department of Transportation presented the WSDOT vulnerability assessment pilot project. The working session identified key sensitivities associated with changes in flood risk, snowpack, visitation timing, and other aspects of access.

Day 2: Adaptation Planning
The second day of the workshop focused on adaptation planning for the management of roads, recreation, and cultural resources. The day started with an overview of adaptation principles by Alan Hamlet, followed by several case studies of adaptation planning for roads. A highlight of the second day was a presentation by Bill Shelmerdine, the assistant forest engineer on the Olympic National Forest. Bill presented the current adaptation planning effort for road management on the Olympic National Forest (ONF). This work is a joint effort between ONF and Climate Impacts Group and is an extension of the information needs identified in the Olympic climate change adaptation case study. During the afternoon working session, scientists and resource managers worked together to identify potential adaptation options for road and trail management.


Climate Change and Vegetation Management in the North Cascadia Region

On November 7th and 8th, NCAP hosted the second in a series of four resource sector workshops: Climate Change and Vegetation management in the North Cascadia Region. In addition to representatives from the two NCAP national parks and forests, other partners with representatives at the workshop included WA Department of Natural Resources, Seattle Public Utilities (Cedar River Watershed), EPA, and US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Day 1: Vulnerability Assessment
The morning of the first day included presentations of potential effects of climate change on vegetation productivity and species distributions in forest west of the Cascades (Raymond), east of the Cascades (Peterson), and high elevation ecosystems (Rochefort). Dave Peterson of the USFS PNW Research Station in Wenatchee presented potential effects of climate change on invasive species. Karen Ripley from Washington Department of Natural Resources presented current and possible future trends in forest insect and pathogen outbreaks. Jeremy Littell from the Climate Impacts Group presented expected future trends in wildfire. Resource specialists from each of the NCAP units gave overviews of current vegetation management practices and priorities.

In the afternoon session, Paul Hessburg (FS PNW Research Station, Wenatchee) and Richy Harrod (Okanogan-Wenacthee NF) presented their efforts to incorporate climate change into the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest Restoration Strategy. This presentation was followed by a working session focused on identifying key sensitivities to climate change in four areas: ecosystem services, ecological disturbances, species distributions, and alpine and subalpine ecosystems.

Day 2: Adaptation Planning
The second day included two presentations on adapting vegetation management for climate change. Dave Peterson (USFS PNW Station, Seattle) presented an overview of climate change adaptation principles. Jessica Halofsky (University of Washington) presented the results from the Olympic Case Study, an adaptation planning effort for vegetation management on national parks and forests similar to NCAP. These presentations were followed by a working session during which workshop participants brainstorm adaptation options for the four topic areas.


A Workshop on Climate Change, Fish and Fish Habitat in the North Cascadia Ecosystem

NCAP held the first workshop on vulnerability assessment and adaptation, which focused on climate change effects on fisheries, in Seattle, WA on July 27-28. Thirty-five stakeholders with interests in fish management in the North Cascadia region participated in the workshop. Agencies and organizations represented included:

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Seattle City Light
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • University of Washington
  • Western Washington University
  • USFWS North Pacific LCC
  • Seattle Public Utilities
  • USGS – Forest and rangeland Ecosystem Science Center (FRESC)
  • WA Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Tulalip, Cowlitz, and Puyallup tribes
  • EPA – Region 10
  • USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station (Olympia and Wenatchee)
The findings of this workshop will be compiled into a final report published as a USFS General Technical Report.

Day 1: Vulnerability Assessment
The first day focused on assessing the vulnerability of fish and fish habitat to climate change. UW, Climate Impacts scientist Nate Mantua presented an overview of projected changes in regional climate and hydrology and the implications of these projections for fish and fish habitat. Fish biologists and aquatic ecologists from each of the four NCAP Parks and Forests presented agency goals and objectives for fish and aquatic management. A panel of scientific experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station, Seattle City Light, and the Tulalip Tribes discussed a variety of current research on climate change and fish management including salmon restoration, bull trout monitoring, in-stream habitat restoration, and tribal fish management. Presentations were followed by a working session during which scientists and resource managers worked collaboratively to indentify key climate change effects and sensitivities for fisheries in the North Cascadia ecosystem.

Day 2: Adaptation Planning
The second day focused on adaptation planning. Dave Peterson presented principles of climate change adaptation for resource management. Workshop participants spent the day identifying adaptation strategies and tactics to reduce the vulnerability of fish and fish habitat to four climate change effects: (1) lower low flows, (2) higher peak flows, (3) increased stream temperatures, and (4) increased sedimentation from wildfires and glaciers.

NCAP is a Forest Service - National Park Service collaboration that is using an "all lands" approach to:

  1. Increase awareness of climate change;
  2. Assess the vulnerability of cultural and natural resources; and
  3. Incorporate climate change adaptation into current management of federal lands in the North Cascades region.

NCAP is an Adaptation Partners Project.

US Forest Service       National Park Service       Climate Impacts Group

Our GTR:
Raymond, CL.; Peterson, DL.; Rochefort, RM., eds. 2014. Climate change vulnerability and adaptation in the North Cascades region, WA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-892. Portland, OR: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 279 p.

Partnership produces recommendations for managers to respond to climate change in northern Washington

Fires and floods: North Cascades federal lands prepare for climate change

‘Dismal’ snowpack may be new normal in Northwest by Rob Carson for The News Tribune.