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Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West
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Region at risk: visualizing environmental trends in the American West

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In this EcoWest.org presentation, we summarize our research on trends in biodiversity, climate change, land use, politics, water, and wildfires in the American West.

In this EcoWest.org presentation, we summarize our research on trends in biodiversity, climate change, land use, politics, water, and wildfires in the American West.

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  • Narrative: EcoWest’s mission is to inform and advance conservation in the North American West by analyzing, visualizing, and sharing data on environmental trends.
  • Narrative: This is a summary of six presentations that illustrate key environmental metrics. Other decks cover land use, water, biodiversity, wildfires, climate, and politics. You can download these presentations and other resources at EcoWest.org.
  • Narrative: Here are some of the key findings from our research.
  • Narrative: Here’s another way of summarizing our research. For each topic, we’ve assigned an arrow to illustrate the overall trend and then described both good and bad news related to each topic.
  • Narrative: Let’s begin by discussing land use patterns and the human footprint in the region.
  • Narrative: Here are some of the key points.
  • Narrative: The preponderance of public land is one of the West’s defining features. This map shows what percentage of each state is owned by the federal government. Nevada and Alaska top the list and all Western states have at least 30 percent of their land under federal control. The biggest landowner in the West is the Bureau of Land Management, followed by the Forest Service. Source: U.S. General Services Administration, Federal Real Property Profile 2004URL: http://www.gsa.gov/graphics/ogp/Annual_Report__FY2004_Final_R2M-n11_0Z5RDZ-i34K-pR.pdfNotes: Excludes trust properties. Adapted from map in Kennedy, Donald, “Can the West Lead Us to a Better Place?,” Stanford Magazine, May/June 2008. http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2008/mayjun/features/west.html
  • Narrative: Because there’s so much federal land in the West, as well as undeveloped state and tribal property, much of the region is nominally protected. Most of the West’s ecoregions—areas that are like ecological neighborhoods--have at least 20 percent of their area protected. The rate is somewhat lower along the California Coast and in the plains east of the Rocky Mountains. Very little land is protected in California’s Central Valley and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Source: Hoekstra et al. The Atlas Of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2010URL: http://www.nature.org/ourscience/sciencefeatures/conservation-atlas.xml http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=09fe3f2e8cf1402281339f0e17924e9aNotes: We derived estimates of protected area coverage from the World Database of Protected Areas (WDPA, UNEP/IUCN 2007) with supplements for the United States (CBI 2006) and Australia (CAPAD 2006). The WDPA is the most comprehensive global catalog of protected areas and includes data about their sizes, locations, and IUCN classifications of management designation. The WDPA was assembled by a broad alliance of organizations that aimed to maintain a freely available, accurate, and current database that is accepted as a global standard by all stakeholders.The distribution of all protected areas was mapped in a Geographic Information System and then summarized to calculate the total area of all protected areas in each ecoregion and biome, respectively. We included all categories of protected areas in our estimates, except those that lacked location data or that had nonpermanent status. Protected areas with only point location and area data were mapped as circles with appropriate radii. Portions of any protected areas that extended into the marine environment were clipped out. Overlapping protected areas were combined to avoid double-counting errors. The time series of cumulative protected area coverage was derived from the WDPA based on the reported year of designation. The number and total area of different categories of protected areas were calculated based on the IUCN classification assigned to each protected area. These categories indicate the intended management objectives for each protected area, but they do not necessarily predict whether that management is occurring or is effective. Protected areas for which no IUCN category was assigned were not included in these tallies. A note about Antarctica designation of “not applicable”: Antarctica is often regarded as a special case; not owned by a nation, its management falls under the jurisdiction of the twenty-seven nations that are signatories to the Antarctica Treaty System. There are provisions for designation of protected areas under this system, although only small areas have so far been established. At the same time, the general environmental regulations pertaining to the continent and, to some degree, to the surrounding waters are regarded by many as equivalent to, or perhaps stricter than, those applied to many protected areas elsewhere in the world.Data derived from:Collaborative Australian Protected Area Database (CAPAD). 2006. Available on request from the Australian Government, Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts at www.deh.gov.au/parks/nrs/capad. Digital media.Conservation Biology Institute (CBI). 2006. Protected Areas Database (PAD), version 4. Conservation Biology Institute, Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Available at www.consbio.org/cbi/projects/PAD. Digital media.UN Environment Programme (UNEP)/International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 2007. Protected areas extracted from the 2007 World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). The WDPA is a joint product of UNEP and the IUCN, prepared by UNEP-WCMC and the IUCN WCPA working with Governments, the Secretariats of MEAs, and collaborating NGOs. For further information, contact protectedareas@unep-wcmc.org or go to www.WDPA.org.
  • Narrative: Although much of the West’s land is protected in some manner, the imprint of humanity on the region has been deep and indelible. Federal agencies grant varying levels of protection to the land they manage, with traditional industries such as logging, mining, and ranching allowed in many areas, but prohibited in many wilderness areas, parks, and other preserves. This map shows the results of an analysis of the human footprint in the West that accounts for a variety of stressors. White indicates areas with the least human impact, followed by green for places where the footprint is minimal, while orange and red areas are where people have done the most to transform native ecosystems. The most heavily impacted areas tend to be near cities, with places like Southern California, the Bay Area, Puget Sound, and the Colorado Front Range showing up clearly. Agriculture is the other big driver here: the Central Valley of California, the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and parts of Southeast Washington and Southern Idaho stand out in this regard. Source: Matthias Leu, Steven E. Hanser, and Steven T. Knick. The Human Footprint In The West: A Large-scale Analysis Of Anthropogenic Impacts. Ecological Applications, 18(5), 2008, pp. 1119–1139URL: http://sagemap.wr.usgs.gov/HumanFootprint.aspx http://fresc.usgs.gov/products/papers/1696_Leu.pdf http://fresc.usgs.gov/products/fs/fs-127-03.pdfNotes: Humans have dramatically altered wildlands in the western United States over the past 100 years by using these lands and the resources they provide. Anthropogenic changes to the landscape, such as urban expansion and development of rural areas, influence the number and kinds of plants and wildlife that remain. In addition, western ecosystems are also affected by roads, powerlines, and other networks and land uses necessary to maintain human populations. The cumulative impacts of human presence and actions on a landscape are called the “human footprint.” These impacts may affect plants and wildlife by increasing the number of synanthropic (species that benefit from human activities) bird and mammal predators and facilitating their movements through the landscape or by creating unsuitable habitats. These actions can impact plants and wildlife to such an extent that the persistence of populations or entire species is questionable. The human footprint map focuses on shrubland ecosystems and combines models of habitat use by synanthropic predators (“top-down” effects) and the risk of invasive plant presence (“bottom-up” effects) to estimate the total influence of human activities. Humans have dramatically altered wildlands in the western United States over the past 100 years by using these lands and the resources they provide.  Anthropogenic changes to the landscape, such as urban expansion, construction of roads, power lines, and other networks and land uses necessary to maintain human populations influence the number and kinds of plants and wildlife that remain.  We developed the map of the human footprint for the western United States from an analysis of 14 landscape structure and anthropogenic features:  human habitation, interstate highways, federal and state highways, secondary roads, railroads, irrigation canals, power lines, linear feature densities, agricultural land, campgrounds, highway rest stops, land fills, oil and gas development, and human induced fires.  We used these input layers to develop seven models to estimate the total influence of the human footprint.  These models either explored how anthropogenic features influence wildlife populations via changes in habitat (road-induced dispersal of invasive plants, oil and gas developments, human induced fires, and anthropogenic habitat fragmentation) or predators densities (spatial distribution of domestic and synanthropic avian predators).  The human footprint map is a composite of these seven models.  The final map consists of a 180 meter resolution raster data set with 10 human footprint classes.  Modeling the human footprint across large landscapes also allows researchers to generate hypotheses about ecosystem change and to conduct studies in regions differing in potential impact. Because funding for restoration and conservation projects is limited, and because there is little room for errors in the management of species of concern, land managers are able to maximize restoration and conservation efforts in areas minimally influenced by the human footprint. As such, the human footprint model is an important first step toward understanding the synergistic effects acting on shrublands in the western United States.
  • Narrative: Many of the white and deep green areas on the map are already protected as wilderness areas, usually in national forests or national parks, but sometimes on land managed by the BLM and Fish and Wildlife Service. Blue indicates the location of wilderness areas in places such as the Sierra Nevada, Mojave Desert, Northern Cascades, and Northern Rockies. Purple shows where national parks and monuments are located. Major parks, such as Yellowstone, Glacier, Death Valley, Yosemite,Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, and Olympic are clearly visible. And pink shows so-called Wilderness Study Areas, which the BLM is currently managing as wilderness but which are not protected by an act of Congress. You can see that these wilderness areas, parks, monuments, and WSAs cover many of the white areas, but not all of them. Most of the other areas that are white or deep green on these maps are public lands, but they are not receiving the special protections afforded to wilderness and parks. Source: Matthias Leu, Steven E. Hanser, and Steven T. Knick. The Human Footprint In The West: A Large-scale Analysis Of Anthropogenic Impacts. Ecological Applications, 18(5), 2008, pp. 1119–1139URL: http://sagemap.wr.usgs.gov/HumanFootprint.aspx http://fresc.usgs.gov/products/papers/1696_Leu.pdf http://fresc.usgs.gov/products/fs/fs-127-03.pdfNotes: Humans have dramatically altered wildlands in the western United States over the past 100 years by using these lands and the resources they provide. Anthropogenic changes to the landscape, such as urban expansion and development of rural areas, influence the number and kinds of plants and wildlife that remain. In addition, western ecosystems are also affected by roads, powerlines, and other networks and land uses necessary to maintain human populations. The cumulative impacts of human presence and actions on a landscape are called the “human footprint.” These impacts may affect plants and wildlife by increasing the number of synanthropic (species that benefit from human activities) bird and mammal predators and facilitating their movements through the landscape or by creating unsuitable habitats. These actions can impact plants and wildlife to such an extent that the persistence of populations or entire species is questionable. The human footprint map focuses on shrubland ecosystems and combines models of habitat use by synanthropic predators (“top-down” effects) and the risk of invasive plant presence (“bottom-up” effects) to estimate the total influence of human activities. Humans have dramatically altered wildlands in the western United States over the past 100 years by using these lands and the resources they provide.  Anthropogenic changes to the landscape, such as urban expansion, construction of roads, power lines, and other networks and land uses necessary to maintain human populations influence the number and kinds of plants and wildlife that remain.We developed the map of the human footprint for the western United States from an analysis of 14 landscape structure and anthropogenic features:  human habitation, interstate highways, federal and state highways, secondary roads, railroads, irrigation canals, power lines, linear feature densities, agricultural land, campgrounds, highway rest stops, land fills, oil and gas development, and human induced fires.  We used these input layers to develop seven models to estimate the total influence of the human footprint.  These models either explored how anthropogenic features influence wildlife populations via changes in habitat (road-induced dispersal of invasive plants, oil and gas developments, human induced fires, and anthropogenic habitat fragmentation) or predators densities (spatial distribution of domestic and synanthropic avian predators).  The human footprint map is a composite of these seven models.  The final map consists of a 180 meter resolution raster data set with 10 human footprint classes.  Modeling the human footprint across large landscapes also allows researchers to generate hypotheses about ecosystem change and to conduct studies in regions differing in potential impact. Because funding for restoration and conservation projects is limited, and because there is little room for errors in the management of species of concern, land managers are able to maximize restoration and conservation efforts in areas minimally influenced by the human footprint. As such, the human footprint model is an important first step toward understanding the synergistic effects acting on shrublands in the western United States.
  • Narrative: One of the most important factors behind this expanding human imprint is population growth. By 2030, the region is expected to be home to a quarter of all Americans, up from about 0 percent in 1830 and 9 percent in 1930. The West is home to some of the fastest growing counties in the country. This slide shows the change in the number of people living in each county from the 2000 to 2010 census. Growth was especially strong in places like Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, Southern California, the Colorado Front Range, Albuquerque-Santa Fe, Portland, Seattle, and Salt Lake City.Source: U.S. Census BureauURL: http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-01.pdfNotes:
  • Narrative: Although the West is known for its unpopulated expanses, this map illustrates that the region’s population is very concentrated and urbanized. The diamonds are sized according to a county’s population and you can see how the cities of Southern California—Los Angeles, San Diego, the Inland Empire—really dominate. Add the Bay Area, Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Boise, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque, El Paso, and Denver and you’ve accounted for the vast majority of people living west of the 100th meridian.Source: U.S. Census BureauURL: http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-01.pdfNotes:
  • Narrative: By 2000, the West’s population had exploded.Source: Hammer, R. B. S. I. Stewart, R. Winkler, V. C. Radeloff, and P. R. Voss. 2004. Characterizing spatial and temporal residential density patterns across the U.S. Midwest, 1940-1990. Landscape and Urban Planning, 69(2-3):183-199. URL: http://silvis.forest.wisc.edu/old/Library/HousingData.phpNotes:
  • Narrative: Here’s what researchers expect the country to look like in 2030. The West will be home to millions of new residents, but much of Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana are expected to remain relatively unpopulated.Source: Hammer, R. B. S. I. Stewart, R. Winkler, V. C. Radeloff, and P. R. Voss. 2004. Characterizing spatial and temporal residential density patterns across the U.S. Midwest, 1940-1990. Landscape and Urban Planning, 69(2-3):183-199. URL: http://silvis.forest.wisc.edu/old/Library/HousingData.phpNotes:
  • Narrative: The West’s population and economy continues to grow, but at the same time, some traditional extractive industries, such as public lands logging, are in decline. This graphic shows how much timber was sold and harvested on all national forests, starting at the inception of the Forest Service in 1905 (the lines sometimes diverge because timber may be sold in one year but harvested in another year). There was a big run-up in the post-war era, but then a dramatic decline starting in the late 1980s as restrictions related to the spotted owl and other environmental laws took effect and foreign competition hurt the industry. Source:US Forest ServiceURL:http://www.fs.fed.us/forestmanagement/reports/sold-harvest/documents/1905-2008_Natl_Sold_Harvest_Summary.pdf
  • Narrative: But plenty of traditional industries remain common in the West. This map illustrates where livestock grazing takes place. The colors show the percent of each county that is cattle pasture or rangeland and each dot represents 10,000 cattle. Livestock production is most heavily concentrated in the nation’s midsection. Out West, the eastern portions of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico have lots of rangeland, but the black dots indicate that there are plenty of cows found elsewhere, including very hot and dry locations like Arizona and Southern California. Source: U.S. Global Change Research ProgramURL: http://downloads.climatescience.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/agriculture.pdfNotes:
  • Narrative: One industry in the West that shows no signs of decline is the energy sector.
  • Narrative: Here are some of the key points.
  • Narrative: Energy development in the West takes place on private, tribal, state, and federal lands. Over time, federal lands have become increasingly important to the nation’s energy supply. This graphic shows that federal lands accounted for about a third of the total for natural gas and all fossil fuels by 2009. However, federal agencies have not continued releasing data in this format.Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration Annual Energy ReviewURL: http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm#summary
  • Narrative: The rate of energy development on public lands was a point of contention in the 2012 presidential election. This graphic shows that the sales of fossil fuels produced on federal and Indian lands has remained relatively constant over the last decade, although natural gas sales have declined slightly. Environmental regulations play a role in determining energy activity on public lands, but so do economic variables, such as commodity prices.Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration Annual Energy ReviewURL: http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm#summary http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/pdf/sec1_31.pdf
  • Narrative: For much of the 20th century, coal was the preferred fuel for new generating capacity. We also added hydropower by building major dams, many of them in the West. But more recently, natural gas has been the favored fuel. It has been decades since a new nuclear plant has been built, but wind has been making some gains in the past few years. This graphic looks into the future. Over the next 25 years, natural gas is expected to be the main fuel for new generating capacity, but renewables are also projected to make some inroads.Source: U.S. Energy Information AdministrationURL: www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo
  • Narrative: The cost of the various energy options plays a major role in the decisions that utilities and state regulators make about building new power plants. This graphic shows the overall costs for 16 different technologies. The cheapest two options at the bottom use natural gas, but renewable resources such as wind and geothermal aren’t too far behind. Solar energy technologies are currently the most expensive. Source: U.S. Energy Information AdministrationURL: http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfmNotes:
  • Narrative: Conventional gas deposits are found throughout the country, and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, but in the West these deposits tend to be concentrated in a few locations, including the Colorado Plateau, Wyoming, Montana, and Northeast Colorado. Shale gas is found in some of the same locations as conventional deposits. In the West, that includes the Four Corners states, Wyoming, Montana, and southern California.Source: U.S. Energy Information AdministrationURL: http://www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/natural_gas/analysis_publications/maps/maps.htm
  • Narrative: Let’s take a closer look at renewables. This graphic shows that Americans are using more and more power generated from renewable sources, but the bulk is from hydropower and wood. Wind and biofuels are increasing, but solar remains a very minor player.Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration Annual Energy ReviewURL: http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm#summary
  • Narrative: Looking ahead, energy analysts believe that wind will be the biggest gainer among renewables, but solar is expected to make some strides.Source: U.S. Energy Information AdministrationURL: www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/sector_electric_power_all.cfm#powergen
  • Narrative: The best wind power potential is off the nation’s coastline and in the middle of the country.This map shows that wind power has been deployed in many locations throughout the West and around the country, with the exception of the Southeast.Source: American Wind Energy Association URL: http://www.awea.org/learnabout/publications/reports/upload/3Q2012-Market-Report_Public-Version.pdf Notes:
  • Narrative: One of the major issues confronting wind power developers in places like Wyoming and Montana is the presence of the greater sage grouse, an imperiled bird that is a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act. This map shows the bird’s current and historic range. Source: USGS Sagemap, Michael A. Schroeder, Washington Department of Fish and WildlifeURL: http://rockymountainwild.org/_site/wp-content/uploads/10-032_Sage_Grouse_Range.jpg
  • Narrative: Several Western states are in the top 10 for solar capacity, with utility-scale projects accounting for the bulk of energy produced.Source: Solar Energy Industries AssociationURL: http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-industry-data http://www.seia.org/sites/default/files/2012%20YIR%20State%20Rankings.JPGNotes:
  • Narrative: Solar energy potential is greatest in the Southwest, but many other parts of the region also have decent solar resources available. A major issue in the deployment of solar energy in the Southwest is the presence of another imperiled animal: the Mojave subspecies of desert tortoise, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This map shows the location of desert tortoise critical habitat in purple.Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Bureau of Land ManagementURL: http://www.nrel.gov/gis/solar.html/http://solareis.anl.gov/Notes: This map shows the potential for solar photovoltaic panels.
  • Narrative: Although wind and solar power have a number of environmental advantages, they do tend to take up more space than coal and natural gas power plants. This analysis examined the issue of “energy sprawl” and concluded that biofuels have by far the biggest footprint of energy sources because it takes so much land to grow the necessary crops. It’s also worth remembering that the best way to shrink the energy sector’s footprint is to reduce energy demand in the first place through efficiency measures. Source: McDonald RI, Fargione J, Kiesecker J, Miller WM, et al. (2009) Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate Policy Impacts on Natural Habitat for the United States of America. PLoS ONE 4(8): e6802. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006802URL: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0006802Notes:
  • Narrative: Now let’s move on to water, the lifeblood of the American West.
  • Narrative: You can see that west of the 100th Meridian, conditions are generally drier, except for the Pacific Northwest and the highest mountains in the region. But what’s perhaps most striking about the West is how varied the precipitation is and how spotty the patterns are, largely due to the influence of mountains and the rain shadows they cast.Source: Climate Wizard URL: http://www.climatewizard.org/ http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0008320Notes: Climate Wizard is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, University of Washington, and University of Southern Mississippi. The first generation of this web-based program—which was recently launched at www.climatewizard.org—allows the user to choose a state or country and see both the climate change that has occurred to date and the climate change that is predicted to occur. Simply put, Climate Wizard can be used to assess how climate has changed over time and to project what future changes are likely to occur in a given area. Climate Wizard represents the first time ever the full range of climate history and impacts for a landscape have been brought together in a user-friendly format. See: Girvetz EH, Zganjar C, Raber GT, Maurer EP, Kareiva P, et al. (2009) Applied Climate-Change Analysis: The Climate Wizard Tool. PLoS ONE 4(12): e8320
  • Narrative: One of the bright spots about Western water is that streams and rivers in the region are generally in better shape than those back East. Nearly half of streams were rated in good condition by the EPA in a recent study.Source: Wadeable Streams Assessment, EPA, 2006URL: http://water.epa.gov/type/rsl/monitoring/streamsurvey/upload/2007_5_16_streamsurvey_WSA_Assessment_May2007-2.pdf Notes: These results were based on a macroinvertebrate index of biological condition that weighs several factors, including taxonomic richness, habit and trophic composition, and sensitivity to human disturbance. EPA is currently analyzing the second round of the streams survey, which will also include data on rivers. These results will be available in May of 2012.
  • Narrative: Per capita water use has also leveled off. One reason is that power plants have shifted to recirculating technologies that withdraw less water. There have also been gains as farmers have shifted from flood to sprinkler irrigation. If you just look at domestic water use, the per capita rate declined slightly from 101 gallons a day in 1995 to 99 in 2005, but the rate varied from 51 gallons a day in Maine to 189 in Nevada.Source: US Geological Survey Water Use in the US 2005URL: http://water.usgs.gov/watuse/
  • Narrative: Nationwide, irrigation for agriculture and the power sector dominate water withdrawals. Overall, withdrawals peaked in 1980 and have over the past 25 years hovered around 400 billion gallons per day.Source: US Geological Survey Water Use in the US 2005URL: http://water.usgs.gov/watuse/
  • Narrative:Focusing on the West, we see that irrigation accounts for the vast majority of withdrawals. Irrigation has been by far the largest water user since USGS began collecting data in 1950. Source: US Geological Survey Water Use in the US 2005URL: http://water.usgs.gov/watuse/
  • Narrative: So what do the West’s water use trends mean for the future availability of water? This map displays water availability by ecoregion based on the ratio of runoff to water use—essentially the supply of surface water vs. the demand for those resources. This calculation does not account for the use of water from alternate sources such as groundwater, desalination, or reuse of wastewater. Nevertheless, huge regions of the West are classified as having some degree of water stress, with the most threatening imbalances occurring in southern Arizona, central and northern California, Nevada, and the western high plains. Source: Hoekstra et al. The Atlas Of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2010URL: http://www.nature.org/ourscience/sciencefeatures/conservation-atlas.xml http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=04aad4fac63e47248b84d5fe2c6d5209Notes:Data derived from:Alcamo, J., P. Döll, T. Henrichs, F. Kaspar, B. Lehner, T. Rösch, and S. Siebert. 2003. Development and testing of the WaterGAP 2 global model of water use and availability. Hydrological Sciences Journal 48, no. 3: 317-338.Döll, P., F. Kaspar, and B. Lehner. 2003. A global hydrological model for deriving water availability indicators: Model tuning and validation. Journal of Hydrology 270: 105-134.
  • Narrative: Withincreasing demand and questionable supplies, water conflicts are expected to multiply in the coming years. This map from the US Bureau of Reclamation shows regions in the West where water supply conflicts are likely to occur by 2025. The assessment was based on a combination of factors, including population trends and endangered species’ water needs. The red zones are where the conflicts are most likely to occur. Areas where the potential for conflict is greatest include the San Joaquin River and Bay Delta in California, the Great Salt Lake in Utah, the lower Colorado River, the Mogollon Rim area of Arizona, the Rio Grande River, and the Colorado Front Range. Source: US Climate Change Science Program/ US Bureau of ReclamationURL: http://downloads.climatescience.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/climate-impacts-report.pdf http://downloads.climatescience.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/water.pdf
  • Narrative: The nation’s water works—dams, levees, aqueducts, sewage plants—have come a long way over the past century. They’re a major reason why we’ve been able to settle arid parts of the West and clean up many rivers and streams. But as with the rest of the country’s infrastructure, many elements are in disrepair. Fixing the nation’s water works will cost tens of billions of dollars. Source: American Society of Civil Engineers, Infrastructure Report Card 2009URL: http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/
  • Narrative: Rising infrastructure costs are a major reason why water prices are continuing to climb. This graphic shows that water bills increased faster than natural gas or electricity costs for American consumers between 2000 and 2012. Many experts believe that water rates will keep going up in the West as utilities struggle to find new supplies in response to the increasing demands of a growing population. Higher water prices could also make conservation measures more attractive to individuals, businesses, and water providers.Source: USA TodayURL: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2012/09/27/rising-water-rates/1595651/Notes: A USA TODAY study of residential water rates over the past 12 years finds that crumbling infrastructure is forcing repairs from coast to coast, with costs more than doubling in 1 of 4 localities.
  • Narrative: As we saw earlier, irrigation uses the vast majority of water in the West. For that reason, many researchers and nonprofit organizations have focused on ways to increase water efficiency in agriculture. This graphic shows some of the possible conservation strategies and how they measure up compared to fallowing the land or retiring it from agriculture. Source: More With Less: Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency in California, Pacific InstituteURL: http://www.pacinst.org/reports/more_with_less_delta/index.htmNotes: According to the report, “smart irrigation scheduling provides a means to evaluate and apply an amount of water sufficient to meet crop requirements at the right time. Despite the promise of irrigation scheduling and other new technologies, California’s farmers still primarily rely on visual inspection or personal experience to determine when to irrigate. Soil or plant moisture sensors, computer models, daily evapotranspiration reports, and scheduling services, which have long been proven effective, are still fairly uncommon, suggesting there is significant room for improvement.”
  • Narrative: Municipal water use has been growing faster than other sectors, so when it comes to conservation, it also makes sense to focus on water use in the home and businesses. In the US, household water use averaged 172 gallons per person per day in 2005. Nearly 60 percent of water use occurred outside of the home for watering lawns, irrigating landscaping, washing cars, filling pools, and the like. Source: American Water Works AssociationURL: http://www.drinktap.org/consumerdnn/Home/WaterInformation/Conservation/WaterUseStatistics/tabid/85/Default.aspxNotes: Original study: Residential End Uses of Water (Denver, Colo.: Water Research Foundation, 1999).
  • Narrative: Let’s move on to another potential solution to the imbalance between water supply and demand in the West: shifting water uses among sectors, especially from low-value agricultural uses to cities. Water markets exist where water users voluntarily agree to buy or sell access to new supplies. These sorts of transfers have been taking place for years, with the majority of volume contracted under short-term leases. Water sales—or the permanent reallocation of water rights—actually account for sixty-seven percent of all transactions, but just thirteen percent of the water transferred. The volume of water transferred since 1987 amounts to about ten times the annual flow of the Colorado River.Source: Jed Brewer, Robert Glennon, Alan Ker, and Gary Libecap. Transferring Water in the American West: 1987 - 2005, 40 Univ. Mich. J.L. Reform 1021 (2007) URL: http://www2.bren.ucsb.edu/~glibecap/MichiganLawReform.pdfNotes:For context, an acre-foot is roughly the volume of water used in one year by an average suburban family household. (http://dnrc.mt.gov/wrd/water_rts/wr_general_info/wrforms/627.pdf)
  • Narrative: Another potential solution is desalination of ocean water. While the capacity of these plants continues to grow, this water supply solution is an expensive one, mainly due to its high energy consumption. All of our major water sources require some amount of energy, but desalination is typically at the top of the list when it comes to energy intensity. As an example, this graphic illustrates the energy requirements of the water supply options in San Diego County. Seawater desalination would require even more energy than moving freshwater hundreds of miles from the San Francisco-Bay Delta to Southern California. There are also major concerns related to the disposal of the reject brine stream and the impact of desalination on marine and coastal ecosystems. But because freshwater is so limited in the West, some communities along the coast feel they have no choice but to explore desalination.Source: “Desalination, With A Grain of Salt: A California Perspective.” Heather Cooley, Peter H. Gleick, Gary Wolff, Pacific Institute. June 2006URL: http://www.pacinst.org/reports/desalination/desalination_report.pdf
  • Narrative: Now let’s shift to the West’s biodiversity.
  • Narrative: The West’s broad spectrum of elevations, temperatures, and precipitation patterns explains why it’s home to such a varied set of ecosystems and species. In Southern Arizona, for instance, the valley bottoms are deserts filled with cacti, but the mountain ranges are two miles above sea level and support lush forests harboring moss and mushrooms. This map shows the West’s various ecoregions, each of which is a unique ecological neighborhood that supports an impressive diversity of plants and animals,many of them found nowhere else on the planet. Source: Hoekstra et al. The Atlas Of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2010URL: http://www.nature.org/ourscience/sciencefeatures/conservation-atlas.xmlNotes: “Ecoregions divide the world into regions of similar habitat. Terrestrial ecoregions draw boundaries that approximate where one set of similar habitats blends with another. Each of the world’s 825 terrestrial ecoregions bounds a natural area in which a unique collection of ecosystems, natural communities, and species is found.”
  • Narrative: This map shows the number of plant species by terrestrial ecoregion. Worldwide, there are more than 420,000 of the so-called higher order plants: trees, vines, grasses, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Deserts and arid lands typically have fewer plant species, while tropical rainforests have the most. But in North America, some drier parts of the inland West actually have more plant species than wetter areas along the coast. Compare, for example, the Great Basin in Nevada to Washington State.Source: Hoekstra et al. The Atlas Of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2010.URL: http://www.nature.org/ourscience/sciencefeatures/conservation-atlas.xml http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=43478f840ac84173979b22631c2ed672Notes:Kier et al. (2005) estimated the number of plant species in each terrestrial ecoregion.
  • Narrative: On the global level, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, has evaluated more than 61,000 of the earth’s species. That’s just a fraction of the total named species, and an even smaller share of the total number of species. Here’s the breakdown for the U.S. Scientists believe the nation is home to at least 200,000 species, but they have only evaluated about 5,000 of them, and half of those are considered “data deficient.” The IUCN classifies 269 species as extinct or extinct in the wild and places nearly 1,200 in the three threatened categories. Source: IUCN Red ListURL: http://www.iucnredlist.org/Notes: Excludes 10 “lower risk/conservation dependent” species.EXTINCT (EX) A taxon is Extinct when there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. A taxon is presumed Extinct when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat, at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual), throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Surveys should be over a time frame appropriate to the taxon's life cycle and life form.EXTINCT IN THE WILD (EW) A taxon is Extinct in the Wild when it is known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalized population (or populations) well outside the past range. A taxon is presumed Extinct in the Wild when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat, at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual), throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Surveys should be over a time frame appropriate to the taxon's life cycle and life form.CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (CR) A taxon is Critically Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Critically Endangered, and it is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.ENDANGERED (EN) A taxon is Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Endangered, and it is therefore considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.VULNERABLE (VU) A taxon is Vulnerable when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Vulnerable, and it is therefore considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. NEAR THREATENED (NT) A taxon is Near Threatened when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.LEAST CONCERN (LC) A taxon is Least Concern when it has been evaluated against the criteria and does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Near Threatened. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.DATA DEFICIENT (DD) A taxon is Data Deficient when there is inadequate information to make a direct, or indirect, assessment of its risk of extinction based on its distribution and/or population status. A taxon in this category may be well studied, and its biology well known, but appropriate data on abundance and/or distribution are lacking. Data Deficient is therefore not a category of threat. Listing of taxa in this category indicates that more information is required and acknowledges the possibility that future research will show that threatened classification is appropriate. It is important to make positive use of whatever data are available. In many cases great care should be exercised in choosing between DD and a threatened status. If the range of a taxon is suspected to be relatively circumscribed, and a considerable period of time has elapsed since the last record of the taxon, threatened status may well be justified.NOT EVALUATED (NE) A taxon is Not Evaluated when it is has not yet been evaluated against the criteria.
  • Narrative: Overall, about 30 percent of plants and animals in the U.S. are considered vulnerable or worse according to this ranking system used by The Nature Conservancy and state governments. Source: Stein, Bruce A., Lynn S. Kutner, Jonathan S. Adams, Nature Conservancy (U.S.), and Association for Biodiversity Information. Precious Heritage : The Status of Biodiversity in the United States.New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.URL: http://www.natureserve.org/publications/preciousHeritage.jsp Notes:
  • Narrative: Now let’s turn to a subset of imperiled species: the plants and animals that have received protection under the Endangered Species Act, or ESA. There are more than 1,200 endangered species in the U.S., but a small fraction tends to generate the lion’s share of attention. Here are some of the notable endangered species in the West, where they’re found, and how they’ve figured into public policy debates. Although species protected by the ESA sometimes do have significant economic and regulatory impacts, most of the plants and animals protected by the law are not lighting rods for controversy. Source: EcoWest.org, photos by Mitch Tobin or from Wikipedia.URL: ecowest.org
  • Narrative: This chart shows how many species have been listed as threatened or endangered, on a cumulative basis. Although the ESA was enacted in 1973, some species were listed under a precursor to the law in the late 1960s. Species are supposed to be added to the endangered list solely on the basis of biology and whether they’re endangered, regardless of the economic impact, but many studies of the act have found that politics frequently intrude in the listing process. If you overlay the terms of the U.S. presidents, you can see that listings really leveled off during George W. Bush’s two terms.Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceURL: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/ http://www.fws.gov/ecos/ajax/tess_public/pub/speciesCountByYear.jsp
  • Narrative: Here we see how many species each president listed under the ESA, on average, per year in office. Environmentalists had a tough time getting species listed during George W. Bush’s two terms, but the rate under Ken Salazar’s Interior Department is less than half the rate when Bruce Babbitt was in charge of Interior during the Clinton administration.Source: Center for Biological Diversity, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Marris, Emma, “Endangered Species Chart a FreshCourse,” Nature online, March 10, 2009.URL: http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/ http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090310/full/news.2009.148.htmlNotes: Table does not include delistings or the 131 species listed before 1974.
  • Narrative: Many species that the Fish and Wildlife Service has judged at risk of extinction are not receiving protection from the ESA. Hundreds of species have been declared as “candidates,” meaning their listing is biologically “warranted but precluded” by budgetary constraints. This list is akin to the queue waiting to board Noah’s Ark and has been the subject of some recent litigation. The Obama administration has made some progress is reducing the number of candidates from about 250 at the start of the first term to 192 in November 2012.Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceURL: http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/pub/SpeciesReport.do?listingType=C
  • Narrative: Where do endangered species live? This map analyzes endangered species by counties. You can see that there is often considerable variation within single states like California and Nevada, where one county may have more than 10 listed species while an adjoining county has none. Hawaii, the Pacific Coast, the Southwest, Appalachia, and Florida stand out for their large number of listed species, but many U.S. counties, especially in the Midwest, have no threatened or endangered species.Source: Stein, Bruce A., Lynn S. Kutner, Jonathan S. Adams, Nature Conservancy (U.S.), and Association for Biodiversity Information. Precious Heritage : The Status of Biodiversity in the United States.New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.URL: hhttp://www.natureserve.org/publications/preciousHeritage.jsp
  • Narrative: Why are species at risk? This analysis looked at a broader category—species listed under the ESA and those classified as imperiled—and analyzed why they were in jeopardy. Habitat loss and degradation is the biggest threat, followed by alien species. There are some differences depending on the type of species: reptiles, for instance, are subject to overexploitation because of a brisk black market while birds are subject to diseases like avian malaria and West Nile virus. Source: Wilcove, David S., et al., “Quantifying Threats to Imperiled Species in the UnitedStates: Assessing the Relative Importance of Habitat Destruction, Alien Species, Pollution,Overexploitation, and Disease.” Bioscience 48 (1998): 607–615.URL: http://apps.edf.org/documents/836_bioscience.pdf
  • Narrative: Here’s another look at threats to endangered species. This graphic shows the share of federal endangered, threatened, and proposed species that have been harmed by various types of habitat loss and degradation. You can see that agriculture and the disruption of fire regimes top the list.Source: Stein, Bruce A., Lynn S. Kutner, Jonathan S. Adams, Nature Conservancy (U.S.), and Association for Biodiversity Information. Precious Heritage : The Status of Biodiversity in the United States. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.URL: http://www.natureserve.org/publications/preciousHeritage.jsp
  • Narrative: Let’s move on to wildfires, a driving force in many Western forests and grasslands.
  • Narrative: Wildfires are a natural part of many Western ecosystems, but the risk of wildfires varies greatly from place to place. In some regions, such as the California desert, there isn’t much fuel to burn, though some parts of the Southwest are being invaded by non-native grasses that are flammable. Aside from the West and Alaska, states in the South are most likely to burn. It’s important to remember that Western forests, woodlands, and grasslands vary greatly in their natural fire regimes. In some, wildfires used to be a frequent visitor, returning every few years, while others would burn every few centuries in big, stand-replacing blazes.Source: USDA Forest Service/Fire Science Laboratory, Rocky Mountain Research StationURL: http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=1375575d0756499aa7fd6759f89840b4Notes: “Wildland Fire Potential delineates areas based on fire intensity, weather, frequency, and size, which was then classified into a relative ranking of fire potential from very low to very high. Fire severity is based on surface fuels potential and crown fire potential. Surface fuel potential was based on calculated values of rate of spread and flame lengths, using the national Fuel Characterization Classification Systems. Crown fire potential was based on assigning relative classes of fire intensity to a current vegetation cover type map. Fire weather potential is based on the average number of days per year the relative energy release component was above the 95th percentile from 1980 to 2005, and the average number of days a year that experienced extreme fire weather based on thresholds of temperature, wind, and humidity from 1982 to 1997. Fire frequency and size is based on the number of 1/10 acres fires or greater per million acres and the number of 500-acre fires or greater per million acres from 1986 to 1996.”
  • Narrative: The preceding map showed the current risk of wildfires in the West, but to understand the issue it’s critical to go back in time. Western forests have undergone some dramatic changes over the past century. Logging and other human activities have certainly led to the outright loss of some forested areas, but even places that have escaped chainsaws and bulldozers have changed in character. This sequence of images shows how one spot in the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana changed from 1909 to 1948 to 1989. Fire suppression has caused a proliferation of smaller trees and other fuel that can allow wildfires to burn very intensely and reach into the canopy. In some areas, such as the ponderosa pine forests founds in drier parts of the interior West, frequent, low-intensity burns used to visit the woods, sparked by lightning or set by Native Americans, and clear out the underbrush. But in other forests, such as the lodgepole pines of the Rockies, infrequent, high-intensity burns were the norm.Source: U.S. Forest ServiceURL:http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr120.pdfNotes:“Forest development on the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana in a ponderosa pine stand after harvest (1909) in which fire was excluded since 1895. Note the changes in vertical arrangement and horizontal continuity in forest stand structure. In general many of today’s ponderosa pine forests contain higher densities of fire-intolerant species and suppressed trees than historical forests.”
  • Narrative: This map shows the condition of natural fire systems, by terrestrial ecoregion. Green indicates where the natural fire regime is more or less intact, pink shows degraded areas, and orange depicts very degraded areas. In the United States, the coastal mountains of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington, and parts of the central and northern Rockies have intact fire systems. But many parts of the intermountain West, as well as the Southeast and Great Lakes region, have degraded conditions.Source: Hoekstra et al. The Atlas Of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2010.URL: http://www.nature.org/ourscience/sciencefeatures/conservation-atlas.xml http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=bc0f2102d5044d9aaeb3569802da3b3eNotes: Spatial data on the status and trends of fire regimes were developed under the Global Fire Partnership, a collaboration of nongovernment and academic institutions and summarized in Shlisky et al. (2007). The fire regime and its status and trends were established through a formal expert workshop process. Workshops were held around the world from 2004 to 2006.
  • Narrative: The number of wildfires and acreage burned varies a lot from year to year, from around 1 million to 10 million acres annually—but there has been an upward trend in recent years. The blue line represents a 10-year moving average. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_totalFires.htmlNotes:2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina; figures prior to 1983 may be revised as NICC verifies historical data; stats after 1983 were compiled by states and agencies.
  • Narrative: Another way of looking at this data is to calculate the average size of fires. Because we’re dividing the total acreage burned by the total number of fires, we run into a problem with a change in reporting on the number of fires in the 1980s, but if you look at the past two decades or so, you can see that the mean size of wildfires has been increasing. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_totalFires.htmlNotes:2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina; figures prior to 1983 may be revised as NICC verifies historical data; stats after 1983 were compiled by states and agencies.
  • Narrative: Wildfires are one of the reasons why the federal government created the Forest Service at the start of the 20th century. Over the past few decades, fire-related costs have consumed an increasing share of the agency’s budget. Here’s how the Forest Service spent its money over the past 10 years. The red bar is for wildland fire management, but sometimes bad fire years have forced the agency to rely on supplemental and emergency appropriations from Congress. Aside from fires, the next biggest category of spending is for running the national forest system, shown in green.Source:US Forest ServiceURL: http://www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/budget/
  • Narrative: One way of gauging wildfire activity is to look at how many days the federal government was operating under various preparedness levels. The National Interagency Fire Center uses five categories, similar to the now-abandoned Homeland Security threat levels. Preparedness level 5 is reserved for the most active times, while under level 4 the competition for firefighting resources is a bit less intense, and so on down to level 1, when not much is happening as far as fires go. This graphic shows how many days the government was under levels 4 and 5. Aside from 2004, 2009, and 2010, it’s been a challenging time for firefighters.Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.htmlNotes:See historical fire summaries
  • Narrative: Because many forests and woodlands have too much fuel due to fire suppression, the government has been trying to step up its thinning on federal lands. This graphic distinguishes between a couple of different types of fuels treatments. The first distinction is between activity taking place within and beyond the wildland-urban interface. Known by its acronym, the WUI is where property and residents are at risk of wildfires, although the definition is somewhat controversial. The fuels treatment primarily consists of thinning with chainsaws (“mechanical”) and prescribed burns (“fire”). The total acreage has been climbing in recent years, but it’s important to remember that these treatments are just a drop in the bucket. By some estimates there are 190 million acres of federal lands at elevated risk for wildfires. Source:US Departments of Interior and AgricultureURL:http://www.forestsandrangelands.gov/resources/reports/documents/healthyforests/2009/FY2009HFAccomplishments.pdf
  • Narrative: Prescribed fires are an important tool for reducing excess fuels. On a per acre basis, they are less expensive than mechanical thinning projects and they can do tremendous good for forest ecosystems by reintroducing fire to where it is natural. But conditions have to be just right to set a prescribed fire so that it doesn’t turn into a disastrous wildfire. That’s happened occasionally in the West, such as the 2000 Cerro Grande Fire in Los Alamos, NM, and many in the public remain skeptical or outright opposed to fires because of the risks and smoke. This graphic shows that the number of acres burned in prescribed fires has generally been increasing over the past dozen years. Most of the burns happen on Forest Service land. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.htmlNotes:See historical fire summaries
  • Narrative: An increasing number of homes in the West lie within the so-called wildland-urban interface (WUI), where wildfires pose a direct threat to homes and businesses. This map shows the location of the WUI. Every Western state has some of these areas, but they are especially common in California, Oregon, and Washington.Source: USDA Forest Service, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team (FHTET)URL: http://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=9a3dadc489264df89540ef6379724deaNotes: This map service provides a raster dataset representing US wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas in high severity forested types in 2000. The data essentially represents where there is a high degree of urban and suburban sprawl coming into contact with forests. The map shows presence/absence as 1/0.
  • Let’s turn to climate change, which is already having a major impact in the American West.
  • Narrative: It’sexpected to get warmer across the nation, but the increases will likely be greatest in the Interior West, Midwest, and at higher latitudes.Source: Climate Wizard URL: http://www.climatewizard.org/ http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0008320Notes: Climate Wizard is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, University of Washington, and University of Southern Mississippi. The first generation of this web-based program—which was recently launched at www.climatewizard.org—allows the user to choose a state or country and see both the climate change that has occurred to date and the climate change that is predicted to occur. Simply put, Climate Wizard can be used to assess how climate has changed over time and to project what future changes are likely to occur in a given area. Climate Wizard represents the first time ever the full range of climate history and impacts for a landscape have been brought together in a user-friendly format. See: Girvetz EH, Zganjar C, Raber GT, Maurer EP, Kareiva P, et al. (2009) Applied Climate-Change Analysis: The Climate Wizard Tool. PLoS ONE 4(12): e8320
  • Narrative: Changing precipitation patterns will obviously affect the West’s water supply and many scientists believe that climate change will be most conspicuous in the hydrological cycle. This map illustrates what’s expected to happen with precipitation under a high-emissions scenario. The Southwest and California are expected to get drier, while the Pacific Northwest is projected to get wetter. Source: Climate Wizard URL: http://www.climatewizard.org/ http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0008320Notes: Climate Wizard is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, University of Washington, and University of Southern Mississippi. The first generation of this web-based program—which was recently launched at www.climatewizard.org—allows the user to choose a state or country and see both the climate change that has occurred to date and the climate change that is predicted to occur. Simply put, Climate Wizard can be used to assess how climate has changed over time and to project what future changes are likely to occur in a given area. Climate Wizard represents the first time ever the full range of climate history and impacts for a landscape have been brought together in a user-friendly format. See: Girvetz EH, Zganjar C, Raber GT, Maurer EP, Kareiva P, et al. (2009) Applied Climate-Change Analysis: The Climate Wizard Tool. PLoS ONE 4(12): e8320
  • Narrative: These maps show projected future changes in precipitation relative to the recent past as simulated by 15 climate models. The simulations are for late in the 21st century, under a higher emissions scenario. While projections for precipitation are cloudier than those for temperature, climate models are showing that in the spring, northern areas are likely to get wetter, while southern areas are expected to get drier. There’s less certainty where the transition between wetter and drier areas will occur, but the hatched areas indicate where confidence is highest. Source: U.S. Global Change Research ProgramURL: http://downloads.climatescience.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/climate-impacts-report.pdfNotes:
  • Narrative: The previous maps looked at projections for the end of the 21st century, but this map focuses on period between 2020 and 2039, which isn’t that far away. Compared to the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, large portions of the West, especially at lower latitudes, are expected to get drier, while the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies are projected to get wetter. Source: Tetra Tech/NRDCURL: http://rd.tetratech.com/climatechange/projects/nrdc_climate.aspNotes:
  • Narrative: This graphic summarizes how climate change will impact the nation’s water supply. The Interior West is expected to get not only hotter but drier and be susceptible to worse droughts. In winter, the higher temperatures will mean less precipitation falling as snow, more as rain, which will have major effects on the region’s rivers, many of which are dependent on the melting snowpack. Hotter temperatures mean higher evaporation rates, greater water use, and potentially more conflicts over water. Source: U.S. Global Change Research ProgramURL: http://downloads.climatescience.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/climate-impacts-report.pdfNotes:
  • Narrative: The West’s snowpack and the timing of the spring and summer snowmelt are critical ingredients in the region’s water supply. For many rivers in the West, spring and summer runoff contributes 50 – 80% of annual flow. The timing of this snowmelt discharge ranges from as early as February in some of the rivers along the Pacific coast to as late as June for rivers in the Rocky Mountains. Over the next thirty years, however, the surge of snowmelt that feeds Western rivers is expected to come dramatically earlier. This map shows the projected change in peak snowmelt timing from 1975 to 2040, by freshwater ecoregion. Source: Hoekstra et al. The Atlas Of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2010URL: http://www.nature.org/ourscience/sciencefeatures/conservation-atlas.xml http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=7819b679e4104e46952ce3a79e0cd7b5
  • Narrative: Add it all up and we’re expecting to see pretty significant declines in runoff in much of the West, with steep declines expected in the lower Colorado River Basin. This map shows projected changes in median runoff for 2041-2060, relative to a 1901-1970 baseline, are mapped by water-resource region. Colors indicate percentage changes in runoff. Hatched areas indicate greater confidence due to strong agreement among model projections. White areas indicate divergence among model projections. A 10 to 20 percent decline is expected throughout California, the Great Basin, the Upper Colorado River, the Rio Grande, and the Arkansas. Source: U.S. Global Change Research Program, Milly et alURL: http://downloads.climatescience.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/climate-impacts-report.pdfNotes:
  • Narrative: Now let’s shift to climate change’s impact on biodiversity in the West and its impressive array of plants, animals, and ecosystems. Temperatureand precipitation play critical roles in determining the distribution of plant communities around the globe. Plant distributions, in turn, determine what types of animals are found in various places. This graphic shows how the climate zones compare for various types of plant communities. Because climate change is expected to affect both temperature and precipitation, major shifts in plant communities are projected in the West and elsewhere.Source: U.S. Global Change Research ProgramURL: http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp//Library/nationalassessment/overviewecosystems.htmNotes: Both temperature and precipitation limit the distribution of plant communities. The climate (temperature and precipitation) zones of some of the major plant communities (such as temperate forests, grasslands, and deserts) in the U.S. are shown in this figure. Note that the grasslands zone encompasses a wide range of environments. This zone can include a mixture of woody plants with the grasses. The shrublands and woodlands of the West are examples of grass/woody vegetation mixes that occur in the zone designated as grasslands. With climate change, the areas occupied by these zones will shift relative to their current distribution. Plant species are expected to shift with their climate zones. The new plant communities that result from these shifts are likely to be different from current plant communities because individual species will very likely migrate at different rates and have different degrees of success in establishing themselves in new places.
  • Narrative: One of the West’s most striking aspects is the enormous variation in elevation, temperature, precipitation—and therefore ecosystems—that are found in a small area. The scorching desert of Death Valley, 282 feet below sea level and the lowest point on the continent, is only 85 miles away from the snow-capped peak of Mount Whitney, 14,505 feet above sea level and the tallest point in the contiguous 48 states.Source: Climate Wizard URL: http://www.climatewizard.org/ http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0008320Notes: Climate Wizard is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, University of Washington, and University of Southern Mississippi. The first generation of this web-based program—which was recently launched at www.climatewizard.org—allows the user to choose a state or country and see both the climate change that has occurred to date and the climate change that is predicted to occur. Simply put, Climate Wizard can be used to assess how climate has changed over time and to project what future changes are likely to occur in a given area. Climate Wizard represents the first time ever the full range of climate history and impacts for a landscape have been brought together in a user-friendly format. See: Girvetz EH, Zganjar C, Raber GT, Maurer EP, Kareiva P, et al. (2009) Applied Climate-Change Analysis: The Climate Wizard Tool. PLoS ONE 4(12): e8320
  • Narrative: Same goes with precipitation. Look, for example, at Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The Cascade Mountains are among the wettest areas in the country, but to their east, precipitation is scant, except for the higher elevations of the Northern Rockies. The result is an amazing variety of ecosystems, ranging from rainforests to deserts, in a relatively compact area. Because some plants and animals require a warmer, drier climate, while others need cooler, wetter weather, the diversity of species can be tremendous in just one corner of one state. Source: Climate Wizard URL: http://www.climatewizard.org/ http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0008320Notes: Climate Wizard is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, University of Washington, and University of Southern Mississippi. The first generation of this web-based program—which was recently launched at www.climatewizard.org—allows the user to choose a state or country and see both the climate change that has occurred to date and the climate change that is predicted to occur. Simply put, Climate Wizard can be used to assess how climate has changed over time and to project what future changes are likely to occur in a given area. Climate Wizard represents the first time ever the full range of climate history and impacts for a landscape have been brought together in a user-friendly format. See: Girvetz EH, Zganjar C, Raber GT, Maurer EP, Kareiva P, et al. (2009) Applied Climate-Change Analysis: The Climate Wizard Tool. PLoS ONE 4(12): e8320
  • Narrative: Because climate change will affect future temperatures, precipitation patterns, and other elements of the weather, the mosaic of ecosystems in the West is going to be rearranged. This map shows the current conditions, as well as the results from two climate models. The West currently includes arid lands in the Southwest deserts, conifer forests at higher elevations, and shrubs, woodlands, and grasslands in between. The models not only factor in changing temperature and precipitation but also account for increasing levels of carbon dioxide, which promotes plant growth. You can see that in the Southwest, a large portion of the arid land deserts are replaced with grasslands, shrubs, or woodlands. In the Great Basin, there’s a shift from shrubs to savannas. Source: U.S. Forest ServiceURL: http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/mdr/mapss/about/modeloutput/sim_usvegdist.shtmlNotes:
  • Narrative: Let’s take a closer look at some specific examples of species that will be impacted by climate change. This series of maps shows average air temperatures in August for the Pacific Northwest. Levels above 70°F can severely stress coldwater fish, such as trout, salmon, and steelhead by raising water temperatures. You can see that major warming is expected in the region over the next few decades.Source: U.S. Global Change Research ProgramURL: http://downloads.climatescience.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/climate-impacts-report.pdfNotes: Increasing air temperatures lead to rising water temperatures, which increase stress on coldwater fish such as trout, salmon, and steelhead. August average air temperature above 70°F is a threshold above which these fish are severely stressed. Projected temperatures for the 2020s and 2040s under a higher emissions scenario suggest that the habitat for these fish is likely to decrease dramatically.
  • Narrative: Researchers are already documenting a northward movement of birds and other species in response to warming temperatures. This graphic shows results from an analysis of 40 years of data from the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. Many species are wintering farther north in response to the changing climate.Source: Associated Press, Audubon Society, NOAAURL: http://birdsandclimate.audubon.org/Notes: Nearly 60% of the 305 species found in North America in winter are on the move, shifting their ranges northward by an average of 35 miles. Audubon scientists analyzed 40 years of citizen-science Christmas Bird Count data — and their findings provide new and powerful evidence that global warming is having a serious impact on natural systems. Northward movement was detected among species of every type, including more than 70 percent of highly adaptable forest and feeder birds.
  • Narrative: In some cases, species will be able to fly, swim, crawl, hop, or otherwise move to more suitable habitat. But sometimes there will be insurmountable obstacles. The pika, for example, faces a challenging future because it can only retreat uphill so far. Eventually, it will run out of mountain. The map on the left shows currently suitable habitat for the pika, but the map on the right shows what’s expected by 2100 if climate change continues. According to this projection, vast areas that are now home to pikas will be too warm to support the species.Source: Scott Loarie, Carnegie Institution Department of Global EcologyURL: http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2009/lawsuit-filed-to-protect-american-pika-under-california-endangered-species-actNotes:
  • Narrative: Scientists have already found that the warming experienced over the past few decades in the West has led to an increase in wildfire activity. One paper concluded that “large wildfire activity increased suddenly and markedly” starting in the mid-1980s, with most of the change due to a warming climate rather than fire suppression. Higher temperatures led to a thinner snowpack that melted earlier in spring, leading to more-flammable conditions in summer. The scientists looked at more than 1,100 large blazes that broke out from 1970 onward. Compared to the 1970–1986 period, wildfires in the 1987–2003 time frame were four times as frequent and burned more than six times the acreage. The length of the wildfire season increased an average of 78 days.Source: Westerling et al. “Warming and Earlier Spring Increase Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity.” Science 18 August 2006: 313 (5789), 940-943. Published online,July 6, 2006.URL: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/313/5789/940.full.pdfNotes:
  • Narrative: Looking ahead, climate change is projected to make the West’s wildfire season even worse. This map shows how various ecoregions are expected to fare if global average temperatures increase by 1°C. In many areas, the median annual area burned is projected to increase more than 100 percent. Climate change is expected to make the Southwest drier, lead to more severe droughts, and cause a thinning of the mountain snowpack that delays the onset of fire season and supplies the bulk of the water in Western rivers and reservoirs.Source: Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia. National Research Council. 2011.URL: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12877Notes: Percent increase (relative to 1950-2003) in median annual area burned for ecoprovinces of the West with a 1°C increase in global average temperature. Changes in temperature and precipitation were aggregated to the ecoprovince level using the suite of models in the CMIP3 archive. Climate-fire models were derived from National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) climate division records and observed area burned data following methods discussed in Littell et al. (2009).
  • Narrative: Warming temperatures and the lack of deep freezes may be responsible for increased activity by mountain pine beetles and other forest insects. This photo shows dead lodgepole pines near Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.Source: WikipediaURL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mountain_pine_beetle_damage_in_Rocky_Mountain_National_Park.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dendroctonus_ponderosae.jpg
  • Narrative: Now let’s take a look at some polling on environmental issues, both nationally and in the West. Most of the slides that follow are based on longstanding surveys conducted by the Gallup Organization. Some other polls examine the views of Westerners in particular, but they haven’t been around for very long so they don’t say much about long-term trends.
  • Narrative: Before we delve intopublic opinion on environmental issues, it’s important to remember that the environment usually ranks very low on the public’s agenda. When Gallup asks Americans “what’s the most important problem facing the nation,” only one or two percent of people will say it’s the environment or energy issues. This graphic shows the public’s ranking for June 2012.Source: GallupURL: http://www.gallup.com/poll/155162/Satisfaction-Slips-Slightly.aspxNotes: Responses with less than 1 percent excluded
  • Narrative: Although few Americans rate the environment as the nation’s top priority, a majority has consistently said that they worry about the quality of the environment. President Obama’s election could help explain why there was a shift in the public’s outlook between March 2008 and March 2009. When asked to rate the trajectory of environmental quality, more Americans still think things are getting worse, but that gap narrowed substantially after Obama took office and has remained relatively constant since then.Source: Gallup URL: http://www.gallup.com/poll/1615/Environment.aspxNotes:
  • Narrative: Most Americans say they’re concerned about environmental issues, but fewer than one in five consider themselves active participants in the environment movement. About 40 percent consider themselves sympathetic but not active. The percentage of people saying they were “unsympathetic” to the environmental movement has risen slightly in recent years, to about 10 percent, while the fraction describing themselves as neutral has climbed to about 30 percent. Source: Gallup URL: http://www.gallup.com/poll/1615/Environment.aspxNotes: No data for 2009
  • Narrative: Some increasing hostility toward the environmental movement is also seen in this graphic. The percentage of people saying the movement has definitely or probably done more harm than good has risen since 1992. But, overall, a plurality of Americans say the movement has probably done more good than harm. Source: Gallup URL: http://www.gallup.com/poll/1615/Environment.aspxNotes:
  • Narrative: The economic downturn appears to have weakened support for environmental protection. When asked about balancing environmental and economic priorities, an increasing percentage of people say that economic growth should be given a priority. In some polls during the 1980s and 1990s, twice as many people said the environment was more important, but starting about 10 years ago, that gap narrowed and eventually reversed. Gallup also asked this question right after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and registered a jump in the share of Americans favoring environmental protection, but that spike appears to have been temporary.Source: Gallup URL: http://www.gallup.com/poll/1615/Environment.aspxNotes:
  • Narrative: The previous slides showed results from national polls conducted by Gallup. In this graphic, we focus on five Rocky Mountain states. When residents of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and New Mexico were asked in 2011 about balancing the environment and economy, the vast majority of respondents argued for maintaining environmental regulations. This poll from Colorado College generally found strong support for environmental protection, especially for public lands.Source: Conservation in the West: A Survey of the Attitudes of Voters in Five Western StatesURL:http://www2.coloradocollege.edu/stateoftherockies/Conservation_West_Survey/ConservationWestSurvey_02_20_11ev1.pdfNotes:
  • Narrative: In these five Western states, some of them quite conservative,nearly 50 percent of respondents feel that environmental laws are tough enough but should be better enforced. Only 10 percent of people surveyed thought that environmental laws need to be relaxed.Source: Conservation in the West: A Survey of the Attitudes of Voters in Five Western StatesURL: http://www2.coloradocollege.edu/stateoftherockies/Conservation_West_Survey/ConservationWestSurvey_02_20_11ev1.pdfNotes:
  • Narrative:Which environmental issues generate the most worry among Americans? Pollution and contamination issues concerned a majority of Americans a great deal, but some issues that the environmental movement concentrates on, such as global warming and the extinction of plant and animal species, registered less concern, while some issues that the environmental movement has shifted away from, such as the ozone layer and acid rain, still cause plenty of worry among some Americans.Source: Gallup URL: http://www.gallup.com/poll/1615/Environment.aspxNotes:
  • Narrative: The survey of voters in five Western states—Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Montana—also revealed that non-pollution issues rank high in the region. More than 80 percent of Westerners describe poorly planned growth and development and the loss of family farms and ranches as “serious” or “extremely serious” problems. As with the national surveys, global warming and climate change are seen as less troubling than other environmental issues, yet more than half of the Westerners surveyed still described these problems as serious or extremely serious. Source: Conservation in the West: A Survey of the Attitudes of Voters in Five Western StatesURL:http://www2.coloradocollege.edu/stateoftherockies/Conservation_West_Survey/ConservationWestSurvey_02_20_11ev1.pdfNotes:
  • Narrative:Finally, let’s take a look a funding for conservation.
  • Narrative: First, let’s examine the overall federal budget. As with public opinion, the environment ranks near the bottom when it comes to federal spending priorities. This pie chart shows where your federal tax dollars are spent, using data from 2011. More than half the budget is consumed by Social Security, Defense, and Medicare. Environmental protection and natural resources receive about 1 percent of the federal budget. There are a few other environmental programs in the other slices, such as clean energy development and conservation of farmland, but their share of the pie is also tiny.Source: Third WayURL: http://www.thirdway.org/taxreceiptNotes:
  • Narrative: This chart shows the top federal programs related to the environment. You can see that the big federal agencies, such as the EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, and Forest Service account for the vast majority of federal spending. Energy-related programs also rank high.Source: Third WayURL: http://www.thirdway.org/taxreceiptNotes:
  • Narrative: The Department of Interior, home to a number of key environmental agencies, has also had a relatively constant budget over the past decade, aside from a jump in 2009 related to the fiscal stimulus.Source: Department of InteriorURL: http://www.doi.gov/budget/ http://www.doi.gov/budget/budget_general/bgindex.html
  • Narrative: The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is another major source of federal funding for Western conservation, but over the past few decades Congress has diverted more than half of the fund—$17 billion—to non-conservation purposes. Initially, the LWCF was funded through sales of surplus federal real property, motorboat fuel taxes, and fees for recreation use of federal lands. But today, most LWCF funding comes from the royalties that energy companies pay when they drill offshore on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). This graph shows that about $900 million is deposited into the LWCF every year, but money that isn’t appropriated by Congress remains in the U.S. Treasury and can be spent on other federal programs. Since 1980, Congress has diverted as much as 85 percent of the LWCF. Source: Department of InteriorURL: http://www.doi.gov/budget/budget_general/bgindex.htmlNotes:
  • Narrative: Let’s take a look at another important source for conservation funding: open space bonds and other ballot measures that are put to voters in state and local elections. Since 1988, American voters have approved nearly 1,800 ballot measures that have generated more than $57 billion for conservation. Funding peaked in 2008 when some $8 billion was approved. Conservation measures generally do well at the polls, in part because backers tend to avoid placing them on ballots when the chances of passage are low, such as during a recession. The green line in this graphic shows the percentage of conservation-related ballot measures that passed each year. On average 74 percent are approved, but in some years the rate has approached 90 percent. The number of measures tends to be lower in off-year elections and peaked in 2004. In recent years, with the economy in the doldrums, fewer measures have been placed on ballots.Source: Trust for Public LandURL: https://www.quickbase.com/db/bbqna2qct?a=dbpage&pageID=10Notes:
  • Narrative: Finally, let’s turn to environmental philanthropy. Foundations and other donors are critical sources of funding for conservation groups, but there is only limited data available on spending patterns in the philanthropic sector. Our best source of information comes from the Environmental Grantmakers Association. EGA has conducted two studies in recent years of the funding priorities of its members, which include the major foundations. However, only some of this data is available to the public. From 2007 to 2009, there was a big shift from terrestrial, coastal, marine and biodiversity issues to climate and energy. You can see that funding priorities change a lot from year to year, unlike federal budgets, which tend to be fairly steady over time. Source: Environmental Grantmakers AssociationURL: http://ega.org/sites/default/files/pubs/summaries/Executive%20Summary%20TTF%20v3%20small.pdfNotes:
  • Transcript

    • 1. Region at risk:Visualizing environmental trendsin the American WestApril 2013Executive Summary
    • 2. 2Inform and advance conservation in the North American West byanalyzing, visualizing, and sharing data on environmental trends.EcoWest mission
    • 3. 3This is a summary of six presentationsthat illustrate key environmental metrics.EcoWest decks describe trends in key metricsIssue Sample metricsLand Acres protected by land trusts, energyproduction on federal landsWater Per capita water consumption, trends in watertransfersBiodiversity Number of endangered species and candidates,biological diversity of ecoregionsWildfires Size and number of wildfires, suppression costsClimate Temperature/precipitation projectionsPolitics Conservation funding, public opinionDownload presentations and other resourcesat ecowest.org
    • 4. Key points1. Human footprint: Despite the prevalence of public land, many of the West’siconic and least disturbed landscapes are vulnerable to human activities, puttingbiodiversity and wilderness values at risk.2. Land use: Population growth is a key driver, but agriculture uses most of theWest’s water and has a bigger footprint than cities and suburbs3. Water: Growth and climate change are compounding the water crisis byincreasing demands and jeopardizing supplies, but water quality is generally betterout West than back East.4. Biodiversity: Habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change are the topthreats to the West’s rich array of species and ecosystems.5. Wildfires: Climate change and the legacy of fire suppression will continue tomake the wildfire season longer, costlier, and more destructive6. Public opinion: Americans—and Westerners in particular—often supportenvironmentalists’ goals, but hostility toward the movement may be growing.7. Funding: Budgets for federal environmental agencies are relatively steady andballot measures usually pass, but considerably fewer have been put to votersduring the economic downturn.4
    • 5. Overview of trends in key issues4/26/2013 5Issue Status Good news Bad newsLand useWaterWildfiresBiodiversity• The West still has large tracts of wildernessand native habitat that are relativelyundisturbed• Some extractive industries, such as publiclands logging, pose less of a threat today• Land trusts are growing in number andprotecting more acres of open space• Growth is expanding the human footprintaround cities and spreading impacts topreviously unpopulated places• Even remote public lands are crisscrossed byroads and suffering from invasive species• Many public lands are vulnerable to harmfuldevelopment under multiple-use doctrine• Newer power plants are using less water• Utilities are employing progressive ratestructures to encourage conservation• The Clean Water Act has reduced pollution inmany waterways• Water quality in the West is generally betterthan in the East• Demand exceeds supply in overallocated riverbasins, creating conflicts over water• Overpumping is depleting many aquifers andharming nearby streams/rivers• Climate change expected to shrink snowpackand change the timing of peak flows• Nation’s water infrastructure is crumbling• Some overgrown forests are being treated withjudicious fuels reduction and prescribed burns• Land managers are letting some wildernessfires burn to restore the natural cycle• Many communities are adopting fire-wisebuilding practices and mitigating risks• Overexploitation (hunting and collecting) isless of a problem today• Key game species, such as deer, elk, andpronghorn, have made dramatic recoveries• Some endangered species have been pulledback from the brink of extinction• The backlog of candidates for EndangeredSpecies Act protection is decreasing• Climate change posing an existential threat tosome species and compounding traditionalproblems, such as habitat loss and invasives• Freshwater species doing especially poorly• The conservation status for many species isunknown and not monitored• In many areas, wildfires are growing larger,burning longer, becoming more intense, andcosting more to suppress• More homes are vulnerable in the wildland-fire interface and the fire threat may promptharmful mechanical treatments• Climate change is exacerbating the problem
    • 6. Overview of trends in key issues4/26/2013 6ClimatechangePublicopinionAirqualityFunding* Levels of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide,and nitrogen dioxide have declined, despite agrowing economy, increasing energy use, andrising vehicle-miles traveled* Shift from coal to natural gas is decreasinglocal air pollution from power generation* Particulates and ozone more difficult to control* Poor air quality is a chronic problem in someplaces, and millions of Westerners are stillexposed to toxic air pollution* Dust-on-snow events are leading to acceleratedmelting of snowpack* Heightened awareness among public andpolicymakers of the impacts in West* Some Western states taking the lead inmitigation and adaptation* Much of West expected to get drier and besubject to more extreme weather/wildfires* Lack of political will to enact policies to reducegreenhouse gas emissions* Species already on the move, but habitat lossand fragmentation pose obstacles* Great majority of Americans are concernedabout the quality of the environment* Strong public support for open space, cleanair, clean water, and other conservation goals* Many Westerners reject false choice of “jobsvs. the environment”* Environment barely registers on nationalagenda of top problems* Recession has slightly weakened support forenvironmental protection* Signs of increasing hostility toward theenvironmental movement* Budgets of federal environmental agencieshave remained fairly steady over past decade* Conservation ballot measures usually pass atthe polls* Sequester and fiscal austerity exertingdownward pressure on public spending* Fewer conservation ballot measure have beenput to voters during recessionIssue Good news Bad newsEnergy* Wind, solar, and other renewables aremaking gains, with many Western statesadopting renewable portfolio standards* Some technologies, including vehicles, arebecoming more efficient* Fossil fuels continue to dominate the energysector and dwarf renewables* Many wilderness-quality lands are threatenedby energy development, including renewablesStatus
    • 7. Table of contents7• Land Use Slides 8-20• Water Slides 21-34• Biodiversity Slides 35-49• Wildfires Slides 50-62• Energy Slides 63-74• Public Opinion Slides 75-93• Funding Slides 105-112• Climate Change Slides 94-104
    • 8. LAND USELand Use Water Biodiversity WildfiresEnergy Public Opinion FundingClimate Change8
    • 9. Key points: land use• Although much of the West is publicly owned, the human footprintis evident almost everywhere in the region.• Relatively pristine areas are often protected as wilderness ornational parks, but many of the least developed areas remainvulnerable due to the multiple-use doctrine.• The West accounts for a rising share of the nation’s population, withmost growth occurring in and around big cities in an increasinglyurbanized region.• Some traditional economic sectors, such as logging on public lands,are in decline, but the West is still home to important mines, farms,and energy development.9
    • 10. 30%53%45%85%50%69%57%48%42%37%42%30%19%Federal lands common in Western states2%4%1%1%6%3%6%6%1%5%7%5%7%2% 4%3%10%2%1%2%3%10%12%8%3%1%1%7%5%VT = 8%NH = 13%MA = 2%RI = 0.4%CT = 0.4%NJ = 3%DE = 2%MD = 3%DC = 25%Source: U.S. General Services AdministrationPortion of each statethat is federal landBLM is biggest landowner, followed by Forest Service10
    • 11. Much of the West is nominally protected4/26/2013 11Source: The Nature Conservancy 11But multiple-use doctrine applies to most BLM, Forest Service land
    • 12. Humanity’s imprint is already deep, indelibleSource: U.S. Geological Survey 12Agriculture has largest footprint, often in unpopulated regions
    • 13. Some of least disturbed areas still vulnerable13Many of these areas are not a wilderness or national parkSource: U.S. Geological Survey
    • 14. The West has many of the nation’s growth hotspots4/26/2013Source: U.S. Census Bureau 14California, Southwest, and Washington among biggest gainers40+20 to 3910 to 190 to 9-1 to -9Less than -9Comparable data notavailableNumeric change in population by county: 2000-2010(thousands)
    • 15. The West’s population is highly concentratedSource: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census 15Region known for unpopulated expanses is actually very urbanizedPopulation by county: 2010
    • 16. 16In 1940, the West was still pretty lonely territoryHousing density especially low in inland states
    • 17. 17By 2000, the region’s population had skyrocketedNot only along West Coast, but also inland
    • 18. 18It’s expected to be even more crowded by 2030But much of NV, UT, WY, MT are still unpopulated
    • 19. Northern spotted owlESA listing0246810121416Billionsofboard-feet SoldHarvestedSome traditional extractive industries in declineSource: U.S. Forest Service 19Timber produced by U.S. national forestsLogging in national forests a shadow of its former self
    • 20. Much of the West still home to livestockSource: U.S. Global Change Research Program 20Pasture/RangePercent of county0.0 - 11.711.8 - 27.527.6 - 47.047.1 - 70.470.5 +Cattle1 dot = 10,000 cattleCattle found in some very hot, dry areas
    • 21. ENERGY21Land Use Water Biodiversity WildfiresEnergy Public Opinion FundingClimate Change
    • 22. Key points: energy• The West has become an important player in the nation’s fossil andrenewable energy supply• New technologies are leading to the development of shale gasdeposits in the West, but the growth rate is expected to be evengreater in the East• Although the use of fossil fuels still dwarfs renewable supplies, theWest is home to important sites for solar and wind energy that areseeing increasing development• All forms of energy development, including renewables, causeenvironmental impacts, but efficiency measures, can reduce thephysical footprint of the energy sector22
    • 23. 051015202530354045Percent% of US total for natural gas% of US total for fossil fuelsFederal lands important for fossil fuel productionSource: U.S. Energy Information Administration 23Private, tribal, and state land also home to energy development
    • 24. Fossil fuel sales fairly steady on public/tribal lands05101520252003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011QuadrillionBtuSales of fossil fuels produced on federal and Indian lands, 2003-2011Total Fossil FuelsCoalNatural GasCrude Oil and Lease CondensateNatural Gas Plant LiquidsSource: U.S. Energy Information Administration 24Government regulations and market forces influence drilling activity
    • 25. Natural gas displacing coal as wind power increases01020304050601985 1995 2005 2015 2025 2035GigawattsOther/ RenewablesNatural Gas/ OilNuclearHydropowerCoalAdditions to U.S. electricity generating capacitySource: U.S. Energy Information Administration 25Renewables now account for much of the new generating capacity
    • 26. Natural gas least expensive, wind getting close0 50 100 150 200 250 300Gas: Advanced Combined CycleGas: Conventional Combined CycleHydroGas: Advanced CC with CCSWindConventional CoalGeothermalGas: Advanced Combustion TurbineAdvanced CoalAdvanced NuclearBiomassGas: Conventional Combustion…Advanced Coal with CCSSolar PVSolar Thermal2010 $/megawatt-hourLevelized capital costFixed O&MVariable O&M (incl. fuel)Transmission InvestmentSource: U.S. Energy Information Administration 26Cost of new generation in 2017Large-scale solar plants are the most costly
    • 27. Shale gas found throughout the countrySource: U.S. Energy Information Administration 27Often in the same locations as conventional gas plays
    • 28. Hydro, wood, and biofuels are top renewables01234567891949 1959 1969 1979 1989 1999 2009QuadrillionBtuRenewable Energy: Total Consumption and Energy Sources, 1949-2010TotalHydroelectricWoodBiofuelsWindSolarSource: U.S. Energy Information Administration 28Wind power production rising steeply in recent years
    • 29. Wind, solar, and biomass projected to increase0204060801001201402010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035GigawattsSolid waste/landfill gasGeothermalBiomassSolarWindSource: U.S. Energy Information Administration 29Projected growth in non-hydro renewable energyBut at this rate, they’ll still be a small fraction of nation’s portfolio
    • 30. Wind power has been deployed throughout nation4/26/2013Source: American Wind Energy Association 30Location of major wind power installationsExcept in the Southeast states, where the potential is poorWhere wind project density is high, projectlocation is not precise in order to show multipleprojects in a small geographic area. Projectlocation is based on county.
    • 31. Sage grouse range overlaps some wind power sitesSource: U.S. Geological Survey, WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife 31ESA candidate threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation
    • 32. 32Some Western states in top 10 for solar capacityUtility projects larger than residential or commercial installationsCaliforniaArizonaNew JerseyNevadaNorth CarolinaMassachusettsHawaiiMarylandTexasNew YorkMW of PV installed during 2012Capacity installed (MWdc)Source: Solar Energy Industries Association
    • 33. Desert tortoises live in some solar power hotspotsSource: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Bureau of Land Management 33Good solar potential extends beyond the desert SouthwestCritical habitat fordesert tortoise(Mojave subspecies)
    • 34. Biofuels have biggest footprint, efficiency shrinks impact-200 0 200 400 600 800 1000Efficiency gains (liquids)Efficiency gains (electricity)Nuclear powerGeothermalCoalSolar thermalNatural gasSolar photovoltaicPetroleumHydropowerWindEthanol from sugarcaneEthanol from cornEthanol from celluloseElectricity from biomassBiodiesel from soyLand-use intensity in 2030 (km2/TW-hr/yr)Source: McDonald et al. (2009) 34How much landdoes it taketo produce energy?Solar and wind farms can contribute to “energy sprawl”
    • 35. WATER35Land Use Water Biodiversity WildfiresEnergy Public Opinion FundingClimate Change
    • 36. Key points: water• A limited, unpredictable water supply is a defining feature of theWest, which faces a water crisis that is being compounded by growthand climate change.• Overall, we’re becoming more efficient in our water use, butmunicipal demand continues to rise along with the region’s growingpopulation.• Irrigation and energy continue to dominate the West’s wateruse, accounting for nearly 90 percent of withdrawals.• Although water quality has generally improved, our waterinfrastructure is crumbling and the repair bill is contributing toincreasing water costs.• Water conservation is less expensive than acquiring new supplieswhile desalination is both costly and energy intensive.36
    • 37. Inherent challenge: aridity west of 100th Meridian100thMeridianAverage annualprecipitation:1951-2002 (inches)Source: Climate Wizard 37The Pacific Northwest and highest mountains are exceptions
    • 38. Western streams top the water quality rankings3818.2%29.0%45.1%20.5%29.0%25.8%51.8%40.0%27.4%0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%Eastern HighlandsPlains and LowlandsWestGood Fair Poor Not AssessedBiological condition of streamsSource: U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyNearly half rated in good condition
    • 39. Withdrawals are leveling even as population grows390501001502002503003500501001502002503003504004505001950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005U.S.population,millionsTotalwithdrawals,billionsofgallons/daySource: U.S. Geological SurveyMore efficient power plants require much less water
    • 40. Withdrawals dominated by power and irrigation400501001502002503003504004505001950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005AquacultureCommercialMiningLivestockSelf-supplieddomesticSelf-suppliedindustrialPublic supplyIrrigationThermoelectricpowerU.S. water withdrawals (billions of gallons/day)Source: U.S. Geological SurveyYou need energy to deliver clean water, and water to run power plants
    • 41. Irrigation is the top water user in the West41Public Supply10.8%Domestic, Self-Supplied0.8%Industrial Self-Supplied0.1%Irrigation76.2%Livestock0.2%Mining0.3%Thermoelectric11.8%Water withdrawals in the West, 2005Source: U.S. Geological SurveyThat’s been true for decades, but cities are consuming a rising share
    • 42. Calif., Southwest, and High Plains face water stressSource: The Nature Conservancy 42Growing demands and questionable supplies
    • 43. Climate change, growth to heighten water conflicts43Potential water supplyconflicts by 2025Source: Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Global Change Research ProgramClash between population trends and needs of endangered speciesIndian lands and NativeentitiesUnmet rural water needsConflict potential - moderateConflict potential - substantialConflict potential - highly likelyWater Supply Issue Areas
    • 44. Crumbling water works will cost billions to fix44$0 $100 $200 $300 $400 $500 $600 $700 $800 $900 $1,000Roads and BridgesTransitDrinking Water and WastewaterSchoolsAviationPublic Parks and RecreationHazardous Waste and Solid WasteEnergyRailInland WaterwaysLeveesDamsBillionsEstimated investment need 2010 - 2015Estimated Actual SpendingAmerican Recovery andReinvestment Act5-Year Investment ShortfallSource: American Society of Civil EngineersOne reason why the price of water is rising
    • 45. Consumer water bills continue to climb45Source: USA TodayMany utilities in West searching for new suppliesWater bills increasedfaster than natural gasor electricity costs forAmerican consumersbetween 2000-2012Average change in residential utility costs: 2000-20120% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 120% 140% 160% 180%Natural gasElectricityHeating oilWaterCurrent dollarsInflation adjusted
    • 46. Strategies for saving water in agriculture46Potential savings compared to fallowing and land retirementSource: Pacific InstituteBiggest user has major conservation potential00.511.522.533.544.5Modest cropshiftingSmartirrigationschedulingAdvancedirrigationmanagementEfficientIrrigationtechnologyFallowing LandretirementWater savings(million acre-feet per year)
    • 47. Nearly 60% of water use occurs outside the home47OutdoorToiletsClothesWashersShowersFaucetsLeaks Unknown Other Baths Dishwashers0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%Gallons per capitaAverage householdwater useSource: American Water Works AssociationDrought-tolerant landscaping can dramatically reduce water use
    • 48. Water markets are already functioning in West0.00.51.01.52.02.53.01987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005Millionsofacre-feetVolume of water transfers in the WestSalesLong-Term LeasesShort-Term Leases48Source: Brewer et al. (2007)Agriculture is top source of water transfers
    • 49. Desalination is very energy intensive—and costly490 1,000 2,000 3,000 4,000 5,000Local surface waterRecyclingLocal groundwaterWater bagsColorado RiverImperial IrrigationDistrictSan Francisco Bay DeltaSeawater desalinationEnergy intensity, kWh/afEnergy intensity of water sourcesin San Diego CountySource: Pacific InstituteGreenhouse gas footprint looms large in California
    • 50. BIODIVERSITY50Land Use Water Biodiversity WildfiresEnergy Public Opinion FundingClimate Change
    • 51. Key points: biodiversity• Ecosystem and species diversity is one of the hallmarks of the Westand is due to the region’s extremes in elevation, wide variation inclimate, and unique assemblage of ecological communities• The number of imperiled species continues to rise, but the process ofgranting plants and animals Endangered Species Act protection ishighly politicized• Habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change are among thegreatest threats, but overhunting and illegal collecting are less of aproblem today51
    • 52. 52The West’s terrestrial ecoregions:A mosaic of diversitySource: The Nature Conservancy
    • 53. Dry parts of the West are among the most diverse53Source: The Nature ConservancyExtremes of topography and climate contribute to biological richnessNumber ofplant speciesby terrestrialecoregion
    • 54. Threatened: how the IUCN classifies U.S. speciesTotalSpeciesExtinct (EX)Extinct in the Wild (EW)Near Threatened (NT)Least Concern (LC)Critically Endangered (CR)Endangered (EN)Vulnerable (VU)ThreatenedNot Evaluated (NE)Evaluated4,926Data Deficient (DD)AdequateData54>200,000258112972815793364722,692Source: IUCNJust a fraction of plants and animals have been assessed
    • 55. 0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%Animals Vascular plantsApparentlysecureSecureOtherVulnerableImperiledCriticallyimperiledExtinct** Possibly andpresumed extinctAbout 30% of U.S. species are vulnerable or worse55Source: Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United StatesAnimals doing slightly better than plants
    • 56. Notable endangered species in the West56Species Where found? Conflicts and public policy issuesGraywolfNorthern Rockies andSouthwestOpposition from ranchers and others animatesdebate over delisting of Northern Rockiespopulation; Southwest wolves doing poorly.Salmon Pacific Coast andPacific NorthwestMajor impacts on dam operations, but alsoaffected by land-use changes, such as logging ofheadwaters habitat.SpottedowlPacific Coast states(northern) andSouthwest (Mexican)Need old-growth forests and have contributed tosignificant declines in logging in the PacificNorthwest.DeserttortoiseMojave Desert ofSouthern Californiaand NevadaOnce threatened to derail growth in Las Vegas;now coming into conflict with solar energyproposals.DeltasmeltSacramento-SanJoaquin DeltaContinuing to influence management of the hubin California’s water works.CanadalynxRocky Mountains Impacts ski industry and other development inhigh-elevation areas.
    • 57. Bush IIBush I ClintonReaganCarterNixon/FordNumber of endangered species continues to rise57ObamaSource: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service02004006008001000120014001600196719701972197319751976197719781979198019811982198319841985198619871988198919901991199219931994199519961997199819992000200120022003200420052006200720082009201020112012Number of species protected by the ESAListings are supposed to be science-based and ignore economic impacts
    • 58. Listings influenced by who’s in the White House58Average number ofspecies listedper yearSource: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service010203040506070Nixon/Ford Carter Reagan Bush I Clinton Bush II ObamaGeorge W. Bush administration kept a lid on listings
    • 59. Waiting to board the ark: a backlog of candidates59Number of candidates for ESA protectionSource: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service0501001502002503003501994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012Obama administration has shortened the queue
    • 60. Endangered species clustered in subset of counties60Source: Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United StatesSouthwest and California are hotspots in WestNumber of federallylisted species12-45-9≥10
    • 61. 0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%All species Plants Mammals Birds Reptiles Amphibians FishHabitat loss/degradation Alien species Pollution Overexploitation DiseaseHabitat loss and alien species jeopardizing species61Source: Wilcove et al. (1998)Major threats to imperiled or listed U.S. species1998 analysis didn’t address the impact of climate change
    • 62. Agriculture top driver of habitat loss/degradation620% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40%AgricultureDisruption of fire regimesInfrastructure, roadsLand conversion for developmentLivestock grazingLoggingMilitary activitiesMining, oil/gas, geothermalOutdoor recreation, off-roadingPollutantsWater developmentSource: Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United StatesTop habitat threatsfor U.S. endangered speciesUnnatural fire regimes even greater threat than development
    • 63. WILDFIRES63Land Use Water Biodiversity WildfiresEnergy Public Opinion FundingClimate Change
    • 64. Key points• Fire is essential to maintaining ecosystem health in many Westernforests, woodlands, and grasslands, but decades of fire suppressionhave caused an unnatural build-up of fuels in some areas.• Fire activity varies year to year, largely due to the weather, butblazes are generally getting bigger, burning longer, doing moredamage, and costing more to suppress.• An increasing number of acres are being treated with mechanicalthinning and prescribed burns, but the backlog is tremendous andthere is some disagreement about where to focus the work.64
    • 65. Much of the West is susceptible to wildfires65Source: USDA Forest Service/Fire Science Laboratory, Rocky Mountain Research StationFirepotentialBut natural fire regime varies dramatically in different habitats
    • 66. Many Western forests filled with more fuel661909 1948 1989Source: US Forest ServiceIn drier forests, frequent, low-intensity fires are often natural
    • 67. Most areas have degraded natural fire regimes67Source: The Nature ConservancyCondition ofnatural firesystemsIn West, only Pacific NW and Northern/Central Rockies are “intact”
    • 68. Acres burned varies by year, but overall trend is up68Source: National Interagency Fire CenterAcres burned by U.S. wildfires: 1961-201202,000,0004,000,0006,000,0008,000,00010,000,00012,000,0001961 1966 1971 1976 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 201110-yearmovingaverageWeather plays key role in severity of fire season
    • 69. Average size of fires has also increased69Source: National Interagency Fire CenterAverage acreage of U.S. wildfires: 1990-20125-yearmovingaverage0204060801001201401601990 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 2011Prior to 1990, number of fires was reported differently
    • 70. Fires consume biggest share of Forest Service budget70$0$1$2$3$4$5$6$7$8$9$102002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013Billions(2012dollars)Supplemental/Emergency/ReserveOther AppropriationsLand Acquisition: LWCFState and Private ForestryForest and Rangeland ResearchCapital Improvement and MaintenanceMandatory AppropriationsNational Forest SystemWildland Fire ManagementSource: U.S. Forest ServiceAgency often taps supplemental emergency fundsWildfiremanagement
    • 71. Many busy fire seasons over the past decade71Source: National Interagency Fire CenterDays at Preparedness Levels 4 and 50102030405060708090100Level 5Level 4But some seasons are quiet due to benign weather
    • 72. Fuels reduction increasing on federal lands7201234562001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009Millionsof acresNon-WUI otherNon-WUI mechanicalNon-WUI fireWUI otherWUI mechanicalWUI fireFuels treatment on federal lands andthe wildland-urban interface (WUI)Source: Departments of Agriculture and InteriorCompared to the overall need, it’s a drop in the bucket
    • 73. Fight fire with fire: prescribed burns73Source: National Interagency Fire CenterAcres burned in prescribed fires00.511.522.533.51998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012MillionsBureau of Land ManagementNational Park ServiceBureau of Indian AffairsUS Fish and Wildlife ServiceState/OtherUS Forest ServiceMuch cheaper than mechanical thinning, but always a risk of escape
    • 74. More homes in wildland-urban interface74Source: U.S. Forest ServicePopulation growing in fire-prone lands
    • 75. CLIMATE CHANGE75Land Use Water Biodiversity WildfiresEnergy Public Opinion FundingClimate Change
    • 76. Key points• Temperature– The West is already warming faster than many parts of the country andeven higher temperatures are expected in the decades to come• Precipitation– Models predict the Southwest will get drier and the Pacific Northwest willget wetter, but the projections elsewhere are more ambiguous• Water impacts– Changes to the vital winter snowpack and the timing of the springsnowmelt will pose challenges to aquatic species and water managers• Biodiversity impacts– Plants and animals are expected to move upslope and toward the NorthPole but many barriers stand in the way• Wildfire impacts– Warmer temperatures and a thinner snowpack will continue to make theWest’s wildfire season longer and more destructive76
    • 77. In West, warming will be greatest in interiorMean temperaturedeparture (˚F)Source: Climate Wizard 77Projected temperature change by 2080s: High emissions (A2) scenarioModels point to much hotter weather across country
    • 78. Southwest will get drier, Northwest will get wetterAverage precipitation change(millimeters)Source: Climate Wizard 78Projected precipitation change by 2080s: High emissions (A2) scenarioPrecipitation projections more ambiguous than temperature predictions
    • 79. Spring and summer will be drier in much of WestSource: U.S. Global Change Research Program 79Projected precipitation changes: 2080-2099Seasonal precipitation patterns critical for wildlife, water managersWinter SpringFallSummer
    • 80. Major precipitation changes by 2020s and 2030sSource: Tetra Tech , Natural Resources Defense Council 80The new normal: U.S. climate may be far different in just a decade or two< -1.0-1.0-00-1.01.0-2.02.0-4.0>4.0Changes in Precipitation 2020-2039 from 1961-1990inches
    • 81. Climate change effects on water cycleSource: U.S. Global Change Research Program 81Less snowfall, more extreme storms, higher evaporationHotter/Drier Conditions (Interior West) Hotter/Wetter Conditions (NE and Coasts)
    • 82. Snowmelt will occur earlier, especially in NorthwestSource: The Nature Conservancy 82Timing ofspringsnowmeltPoses challenges to aquatic species, dam managers, and water agencies
    • 83. River runoff expected to decline in much of WestSource: U.S. Global Change Research Program,; Milly et al. 83Projected changes in median runoff: 2041-2060 vs. 1901-1970Colorado River, California, and Great Basin hit hard-40 -20 -10 -5 -2 2 5 10 20 40Percent
    • 84. Temperature and precipitation limit plant distributionSource: U.S. Global Change Research Program 84Basic ecological parameters are increasingly in fluxDistribution of plant communitiesTropical Subtropical Warm Temperate Cold Temperate Arctic-AlpineMean AnnualTemperature (C)Precipitation(cm)
    • 85. Enormous variations in elevation and temperatureDeath Valley, -282 feetMount Whitney, 14,505 feetSource: Climate Wizard 85U.S. averagetemperatures:1951-2006Lowest and tallest points in contiguous U.S. are just 85 miles apart
    • 86. Annualaverageprecip.(inches)Wet and dry areas are often in close proximitySource: Climate Wizard 86Orographic effect and rain shadows contribute to diversity
    • 87. Source: U.S. Forest Service 87MAP SS Current ClimateHadley S + CO2 (2070-2099)CCC + CO2 (2070-2099)Climate change will shift mosaic of ecosystemsRising CO2 levels will also affect plant growth
    • 88. Decreasing habitat for coldwater fishSource: U.S. Global Change Research Program 88Trout, salmon, steelhead severely stressed when air above 70°F1980-1997 2020s 2040sAverage air temperature (F°)39 50 59 68 79
    • 89. Birds are already on the move89Source: Associated Press, Audubon Society, NOAASpecies moving toward poles, up in elevation, in response to warming
    • 90. Mountaintop species especially vulnerable90Pikas may eventually run out of mountainSource: Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology
    • 91. Wildfires are arriving earlier and lasting longerSource: Westerling et al. (2006) 91Big blazes increased starting in 1980s, mostly due to warmingWestern U.S. ForestWildfires and Spring-Summer TemperatureTiming of springSnowmeltFire Season Length
    • 92. Climate change expected to make wildfires worseSource: National Research Council 92Change in burned areaprojected from 1°C warmingA - Cascade Mixes ForestB - Northern Rocky Mt ForestC - Middle Rocky Mt. Steppe-ForestD - Intermountain Semi-DesertE - Great Plains-Palouse Dry SteppeF - Sierran Steppe-Mixed ForestG - California Dry SteppeH - Intermountain Semi-Desert/ DesertJ - South Rocky Mt. Steppe-ForestK - American Semi-Desert and DesertL - Colorado Plateau Semi-DesertM - Ariz-New Mex. Mts. Semi-DesertN - Chihuahuan Semi-Desert
    • 93. Mountain pine beetle attacking lodgepole forests93Lack of deep freeze may be responsible for outbreak
    • 94. PUBLIC OPINIONLand Use Water Biodiversity WildfiresEnergy Public Opinion FundingClimate Change94
    • 95. Key points: public opinion• The environment doesn’t rank high on the public’s agenda, but amajority of Americans remain concerned about a wide variety ofenvironmental problems• The public agrees with many of the environmental movement’spolicy goals, but only about a fifth of Americans identify themselvesas active participants• The Great Recession has shifted public opinion away fromenvironmental concerns over the past few years and there is someincreasing hostility toward environmentalists• Air and water pollution tend to be the most worrisomeenvironmental issues and disasters, such as the BP oil spill, cancause spikes of interest in environmental issues95
    • 96. What’s the most important problem facing the U.S.?0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35WelfareWars/War (nonspecific)/Fear of warWage issuesUnifying the countryThe mediaTaxesPoverty/ Hunger/HomelessnessLack of respect for each otherLack of military defenseJudicial system/Courts/LawsInternational issues, problemsGap between rich and poorFuel/Oil pricesForeign aid/Focus overseasEnvironment/PollutionEnergy/Lack of energy sourcesCorporate corruptionCare for the elderly/MedicareImmigration/Illegal aliensEthics/moral/religious/family decline; DishonestyEducation/Poor education/Access to educationLack of moneyPoor healthcare/hospitals; High cost of healthcareFederal budget deficit/Federal debtDissatisfaction with governmentUnemployment/JobsEconomy in general1% eachPercentSource: GallupJune 2012survey96
    • 97. 010203040506070802001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012Getting betterGetting worseSameNo opinionElections can cause shifts in environmental opinionRight now, do you think the quality of the environment in the country as awhole is getting better or worse?ObamaelectedSource: Gallup 97Percent
    • 98. Hostility toward environmental movement risingDo you think of yourself as an active participant in the environmentalmovement; sympathetic towards the movement, but not active; neutral;or unsympathetic?01020304050602000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012Sympathetic, butnot activeNeutralActive participantUnsympatheticNo opinionSource: Gallup 98Percent
    • 99. More think environmentalists have done harm05101520253035404550Definitely more good than harm Probably more good than harmProbably more harm than good Definitely more harm than goodNo opinionAll things considered, do you think the environmental movement in thisnation has done more good than harm, or more harm than good?PercentSource: Gallup 99
    • 100. Environment vs. economy: the Gulf oil spill effectDo you think that protection of the environment should be givenpriority, even at the risk of curbing economic growth, or do you thinkeconomic growth should be given priority, even if the environment suffersto some extent?010203040506070801984 1987 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 2011Protection of the environment should be given priorityEconomic growth should be given priorityGulf oilspillSource: Gallup 100Percent
    • 101. Environment vs. economy in the WestAs part of efforts to improve their state economy and generate jobs as quickly aspossible, some people have proposed reducing protections on land, air and waterthat apply to major industries, including construction and agriculture. Would youprefer your state to reduce these protections or maintain them?0102030405060708090100Colorado Utah Wyoming Montana New MexicoMaintainReducePercentSource: State of the Rockies Project 101
    • 102. Few Westerners want environmental laws relaxedWhat is your feeling about the current status of environmental laws?0 10 20 30 40 50 60Laws too strict, need to be relaxedLaws strong enoughLaws, enforcement should be left as they areLaws strong enough, but should be better enforcedPercentSource: State of the Rockies Project 102
    • 103. Air and water pollution generate most concern0 10 20 30 40 50 60Acid rainUrban sprawl and loss of open spaceGlobal warmingExtinction of plant and animal speciesDamage to the ozone layerLoss of tropical rainforestsAir pollutionLoss of natural habitat for wildlifeMaintenance of freshwater supply for household needsPollution of lakes, rivers, and reservoirsContamination of soil and water by toxic wastePollution of drinking waterPercentSource: GallupWhat environmental issues are most worrisome?103
    • 104. In West, non-pollution issues also rank highWhat is the seriousness of the following environmental problems?0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%Lack of access to lands and rivers for hunting and fishingCliamte changeGlobal warmingLack of access to public landsThe impact of oil and gas and drillingThe impact of miningLoss of natural areasToxins and pesticides in food and drinking waterInadequate water suppliesLoss of habitat for fish and wildlifeFunding cuts for state parks, natural area protection, andwater qualityAir pollution and smogPollution of rivers, lakes and streamsLoss of family farms and ranchesPoorly-planned growth and developmentExtremely SeriousSeriousSource: State of the Rockies Project 104
    • 105. CONSERVATION FUNDING105Land Use Water Biodiversity WildfiresEnergy Public Opinion FundingClimate Change
    • 106. Key points: conservation funding• Federal funding– In real terms, the budgets of major environmental agencies havebeen fairly steady over the past decade– The distribution among different programs also tends to remainrelatively constant• Ballot measures– Open-space bonds and other conservation measures usually passat the polls but considerably fewer have been put to votersduring the economic downturn• Philanthropic– The distribution of funding by issue area changes significantlyfrom year to year– Energy and climate-related funding saw big increases between2007 and 2009106
    • 107. How your federal tax dollars are spentSocial Security21%Defense20%Medicare13%Low-incomeassistance9%Medicaid8%Net interestpayments7%Unemploymentcompensation5%Veterans Affairs3% Education3%Lawenforcement/homelandsecurity2%Transportation2%Health (notMedicare/Medicaid)2%Management of federalemployees and buildings1%Environmental protectionand natural resources1%All others3%Source: Third WayEntitlements, defense, and debt overshadow other program107
    • 108. Top federal programs related to the environment$0 $5 $10 $15Environmental Protection AgencyU.S. Army Corps of EngineersU.S. Forest ServiceClean energyEnergy research, statisics and analysisNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationNational Park ServiceU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceBureau of Land ManagementDepartment of InteriorDams, powerplants and reservoirsU.S. Geological SurveyCoal mine oversight and cleanupU.S. Terroritories oversightMine Safety and Health AdministrationEfficient vehicle developmentNatural Resources Conservation ServiceBureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and EnforcementLead hazard control and healthy homesEnergy efficient housingOcean oil drilling regulation and natural resource leasesElectric reliability organizationsBillionsSource: Third WayEPA, Army Corps of Engineers, and Forest Service get most funding108
    • 109. Funding for federal agencies tends to be steady05101520252003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013Billions(2012dollars)OtherOffices of the Solicitor and InspectorGeneralMinerals Management Service/OceanEnergy ManagementInsular AffairsOffice of Special Trustee for AmericanIndiansOffice of Surface MiningGeological SurveyBureau of ReclamationBureau of Land ManagementDepartment Wide ProgramsFish and Wildlife ServiceDepartmental ManagementBureau of Indian AffairsNational Park ServiceSource: Department of InteriorDepartment of Interior budget: 2003-2013Stimulus funds created temporary bump in 2009109
    • 110. Land and Water Conservation Fund short-changed0200400600800100012001965 1968 1971 1974 1977 1980 1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010Millions(Dollars)ReceiptsreceivedFundappropriationsSource: Department of InteriorOuter Continental Shelf receiptsand LWCF appropriationsRoyalties from off-shore drilling diverted to non-conservation programs110
    • 111. Conservation ballot measures usually succeedNumberofMeasuresPassedPercentSource: Trust for Public Land0501001502002500%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2003 2006 2009 2012Number of measuresPassage rateBut fewer have been put to voters during economic downturn111
    • 112. Philanthropic funding varies greatly year-to-year-100 -50 0 50 100Millions of dollarsTransportationToxicsTerrestrial Ecosystems & Land-useSustainable CommunitiesSustainable Agriculture & Food SystemsPopulationMaterial Consumption & Waste ManagementInternational Trade & FinanceIndigenous Populations/CommunitiesGeneral/Multiple/UndefinedFresh Water/Inland Water EcosystemsEnvironmental JusticeEnvironmental HealthEnergyCoastal & Marine EcosystemClimate/AtmosphereBiodiversity & Species PreservationSource: Environmental Grantmakers AssociationChange in funding: 2007 -2009Climate and energy programs recently saw big increases112
    • 113. Overall takeaways• The human footprint in the West is surprisingly large andagriculture has the biggest physical imprint in the region• Growth and climate change are compounding the water crisis in aregion with an inherently capricious supply• Even without climate change, many species would be introuble, largely due to habitat loss and invasive species• Wildfires are generally growing larger and will only get worse as theregion warms and the snowpack thins• Most Westerners want a vibrant economy and a healthyenvironment, but hostility toward environmentalists may be rising• There’s reason for hope: we’re generally getting cleaner and moreefficient in our use of natural resources113
    • 114. 114ecowest.orgDownload more slides and other resourcesContact us by e-mailing mitch@ceaconsulting.com
    • 115. Jon Christensen, Adjunct Assistant Professor and PritzkerFellow at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainabilityand Department of History at UCLA; former director of BillLane Center for the American West at Stanford.Robert Glennon, Regents’ Professor and Morris K. UdallProfessor of Law and Public Policy, Rogers College of Law atthe University of Arizona; author of Water Follies andUnquenchable.Bruce Hamilton, Deputy Executive Director for the SierraClub, where he has worked for more than 35 years; memberof the World Commission on Protected Areas; former FieldEditor for High Country News.EcoWest advisors115
    • 116. Jonathan Hoekstra, head of WWF’s Conservation ScienceProgram, lead author of The Atlas of GlobalConservation, and former Senior Scientist at The NatureConservancy.Timothy Male, Vice President of Conservation Policy forDefenders of Wildlife, where he directs the Habitat andHighways, Conservation Planning, Federal Lands, OregonBiodiversity Partnership, and Economics programs.Thomas Swetnam, Regents Professor ofDendrochronology, Director of the Laboratory of Tree-RingResearch at the University of Arizona, and a leading expert onwildfires and Western forests.EcoWest advisors116
    • 117. Mitch TobinEditor of EcoWest.orgCommunications Director at CEACaroline OttResearch Associate at CEAMatthew ElliottPrincipal at CEAContributors at California Environmental Associates117Max LevineAssociate at CEASarah WeldonAffiliated consultant at CEAMicah DayAssociate at CEAContact us by e-mailingmitch@ceaconsulting.comEcoWest is supported by theDavid and Lucile Packard Foundation

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