Department of Ecology News Release - November 24, 2009

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Washington residents invited to discuss state strategy for climate change impacts

OLYMPIA – Washington residents can suggest ideas about issues that state agencies should consider as they develop a strategy to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Representatives from several state agencies will meet with interested citizens on Nov. 30 in Lacey and on Dec. 10 in Wenatchee. They will outline ideas being considered to help state and local agencies, businesses, organizations, and individuals prepare for, address and adapt to a changing climate.

The 2009 Washington Legislature directed the state departments of Agriculture (WSDA), Commerce, Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources, and Transportation to develop the strategy. Ecology is the lead agency. The agencies must finish an initial strategy by Dec. 1, 2011.

“While state government and others are working hard to limit the causes of changes in Washington’s climate, we also know changes already are taking place. We must be ready and able to address them,” said Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant.

“As we move forward in developing climate change adaptation strategies, it is critical to engage the public, industry and the scientific community to ensure the solutions arrived at are sound and effective,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “Climate change can provide a platform for us to come together to create a shared vision of Washington’s sustainable future.”

At the meetings, agency representatives and scientists will discuss Washington’s climate trends. The University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group recently assessed the trends in partnership with researchers at Washington State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Idaho.

“Farmers and ranchers face significant risks in climate change models, including less irrigation water from snow melt and emerging plant and animal pests and diseases,” said Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse. “At WSDA, we have the responsibility to explore strategies that will help Washington agriculture understand those impacts and adapt to changing weather and rainfall patterns. As the state responds to climate change, it is my goal for WSDA to be engaged so that agricultural interests will be well represented in the discussions.”

Legislators said the agencies’ strategy should:

“Climate change presents a major challenge for everyone involved in natural resource management,” said Phil Anderson, Fish and Wildlife director. “We look forward to working with our state partners in this effort to prepare for the impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife and natural ecosystems.”

Here’s the meeting schedule:

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Media Contact: Seth Preston, Ecology communications manager, 360-407-6848; 360-584-5744 cell; seth.preston@ecy.wa.gov   

Learn more about climate change response in Washington: www.ecy.wa.gov/climatechange/adaptation.htm  

Read legislation on developing an integrated climate change strategy (see sections 10-12): http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5560&year=2009